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Traffic ascends at airline sites

Airlines saw an upsurge in traffic to their Web sites last week as consumers raced to find end-of-the-summer deals, according to a new report.

Airlines saw an upsurge in traffic to their Web sites last week as consumers raced to find end-of-the-summer deals, according to a new report.

The traffic to JetBlue Airways' Web site jumped 72 percent from the week ending July 28 to the week ending Aug. 4, according to a report from Nielsen/NetRatings. JetBlue was one of five airlines that saw their Web site traffic rise by more than 15 percent last week, according to the report.

"People are looking for deals," said Lisa Strand, director and chief e-commerce analyst for Nielsen/NetRatings.

Many airlines have been struggling since the terrorist attacks last September, with airlines such as American, Delta, Northwest and United seeing their revenue shrink and losses mount. To try to drum up business, many have cut fares in recent weeks and months.

Smaller carrier Spirit Airlines announced on Tuesday that it would give away more than 13,000 tickets for seats on its Sept. 11 flights. The company gave away all the seats on Wednesday and saw its Web site traffic skyrocket more than 700 percent compared with the same day the week before, according to Nielsen/NetRatings.

The move could spur traffic and sales at other airline sites this week, Strand said.

"Spirit's offer got people to think about discount travel," she said.

For the week ending Aug. 4, airline sites that saw the biggest increases in traffic included those of American, Continental, United and Southwest, according to Nielsen/NetRatings. Southwest, with 1.1 million unique visitors last week, saw the most overall traffic, but the smallest gain. The number of visitors increased just 17 percent compared with the week before.