Capacity rose 2.8 percent, to 9.04 billion available seat miles, a measurement of one seat flown one mile.
With traffic rising faster than capacity, planes were fuller. Average occupancy, or load factor, rose to 77.2 percent from 73.2 percent in January 2009.
Despite passengers logging more miles, Continental said revenue per available seat mile, a closely watched indicator of pricing power and financial performance in the airline industry, fell between 1 percent and 2 percent from a year ago. The decline was even steeper on the main Continental brand, falling between 2.5 percent and 3.5 percent.
Still, the revenue measurement declines were smaller than in December and were more evidence that the airline industry is digging out from a deep, 2-year slump.
Continental shares rose 63 cents, or 3.3 percent, to $19.92 in Tuesday morning trading. Other carriers rose as well. The AMEX Airline Index was up 2.6 percent, with all 13 component stocks higher.