* Says premium traffic down by nearly 12 percent
* Load factor increased 1.5 pct points to 84.7 percent
* Market conditions unchanged, still tough
LONDON, Sept 3 (Reuters) - British Airways BAY.L carried 0.7 percent fewer passengers in August than in the same month a year ago, and said market conditions remained tough.
The airline, which said last month it expected volumes to improve over the summer after a July spike, said in a Thursday statement its premium, or business class passengers continued to tumble, down 11.9 percent on 2008.
Its load factor -- a measure of how well it fills planes -- increased slightly to 84.7 percent due to a cut in the number of flights.
British Airways shares, up over 27 percent in the past month on hopes the airline industry may be through the worst of its downturn, were up 2 percent before the announcement and were 1.9 percent higher at 184.8 pence by 1321 GMT.
Reporting by John Bowker