Chile's LAN for the seventh consecutive year has registered double-digit growth in full-year passenger traffic, reporting an 11% increase in RPKs and a 16% increase in passengers boarded for 2009.

The Latin American airline group says in a statement today that it carried 15.4 million passengers in 2009, a 16% increase compared with 2008. Fast-growing LAN has now tripled its passenger traffic since 2002.

Most of the growth last year was driven by domestic expansion. LAN, which now operates domestically in Chile, Argentina, Ecuador and Peru, carried 9.7 million domestic passengers in 2009. This represents a 21% increase compared to the 8 million domestic passengers carried in 2008.

Internationally, the carrier's passenger count also grew by 9% from 5.2 million to 6.7 million passengers.

On an RPK basis LAN's traffic grew 11% to 29.8 million RPKs. This included a 21% increase domestically and a 7% increase internationally.

LAN grew capacity by 11% in 2009 to 38.8 billion million ASKs. This included a 22% increase domestically and a 6% increase internationally.

As a result LAN's system-wide load factor improved from 76.6% in 2008 to 76.9% in 2009. Domestically the company's load factor slipped from 76% to 74.9%, but on international routes the load factor improved from 76.9% to 77.8%.

While LAN was able to continue its run of double-digit growth in passenger traffic, a streak it began back in 2003, the carrier's cargo traffic dropped in 2008 for the first time since 2002. LAN registered a 10% drop in RTKs for 2009 to 2.6 billion on a 6% decrease in capacity.

LAN, which remained in the black during the first nine months of 2009, plans to report its full-year financial results on 26 January.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news