August traffic shows mixed picture for European carriers

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Passenger load factors rose around a percentage point to at EasyJet and Ryanair in August, but was down at Aer Lingus and Norwegian as the four European carriers all reported traffic data today.

Irish budget carrier Ryanair grew load factor by a percentage point to 89% in a landmark month for the airline as passenger numbers passed the 9 million mark for the first time in single month. While passenger growth of 1% reflects the relatively limited additional capacity Ryanair has added this summer after completing its current aircraft deliveries, it was still enough to reach the 9 million passenger mark on an earned seat basis.

It was a strong performance from UK budget carrier EasyJet, which lifted its passenger load factor 1.1 percentage points to 92.8% in August compared to the same month last year. Passenger numbers grew nearly 4% to 6.1 million.

But passenger load factor fell 0.7 percentage points at Aer Lingus in August to 86.6%. The Irish carrier's was a mixed performance between its short and long-haul operations. Load factor on short-haul fell 2.5 percentage point fall as a traffic fall of 5% in August outstripped the 2% cut in capacity. But load factors on its expanded long-haul business jumped 1.9 percentage points to 94.9% as long-haul traffic growth of nearly 18% outpaced the 16% of capacity.

Passenger load factor slipped 1.2 percentage points at fast-growing budget carrier Norwegian to 79.2% in August. Passenger traffic, bolstered by its launch of long-haul flights, was up 30% in August on 31% more capacity. Passenger numbers for the same month were 14% higher at just under 2 million.

(Article amended at 10:00 on 5 September 2013 to include Ryanair figures)