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Airline traffic continues to grow but still below pre-recession numbers

March 10, 2011 | 10:33 am

Deltalax U.S.-based airlines carried 720.4 million domestic and international passengers in 2010, a 2.4% increase over the previous year, according to data released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The total for 2010 is still about 3% below the 743.3 million number of passengers that flew in 2008, when demand for airline seats began to decline because of the worldwide economic crisis.

The latest numbers also show that Delta Air Lines took over as the nation's top carrier in 2010 following its merger with Northwest Airlines last year, according to the federal agency.

Delta carried 111 million domestic and international passengers during the year, surpassing Southwest Airlines in terms of passenger totals. Southwest carried 106 million passengers in 2010.

Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport held on to its title of busiest airport in the nation for the 15th consecutive year, serving 42.5 million passengers in 2010, according to the Department of Transportation. Chicago's O'Hare International Airport ranked second with 30 million passengers.

-- Hugo Martin

Photo: A Delta passenger gets directions at Los Angeles International Airport. Credit: Los Angeles Times