Bookings add to Aer Lingus confidence on long-haul growth

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Aer Lingus is confident forward bookings show it is well-positioned to fill the 15% capacity it is adding to its North Atlantic capacity this year.

"The big news for 2013 is that after three years of cautious capacity development, we are returning to growth mode," said the airline's chief executive Christoph Mueller, speaking during conference call as Aer Lingus announced a 40% increase in underlying operating profitability.

"The overall capacity increase on the North Atlantic is a huge opportunity going forward. We intend to grow our capacity on the North Atlantic by 15% in 2013," he says. This includes increased frequency on flights to Boston and Chicago.

It comes after long-haul revenues grew nearly a fifth to €343 million on a 9% increase in passengers in 2012. As capacity was kept in check, load factor grew nearly five points to 82.5% and unit revenues by nearly 10%

"Long haul in 2012 was particular strong as we saw all the elements of our strategy begin to work very well in a co-ordinated way," says Aer Lingus chief commercial officer Stephen Kavanagh. "The partnerships and connectivity on both sides [in Europe and North America], continued to grow our volumes. At this point 40% of our total traffic on transatlantic connects in this way.

"We think we are at a point where we see opportunities for additional capacity, which we will exploit in 2013. That load factor has helped us manage yieldsand enabled us to have price control in the market," he adds. "Thus far, everything on forward bookings on long-haul is demonstrating the 15% capacity increase will be absorbed."