Late Easter timing hits European loads in March

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European airline load factors slipped more than two points in March compared with the same month in 2013 as the later falling of the busy Easter period this year had a distorting impact in the year-on-year traffic comparison.

As Easter falls in April this year, the March traffic figures do not include the busy travel period, while the March 2013 figures do. This contributed to passenger traffic – across the 13 carriers to have reported RPK figures for March so far – increasing only 1.5%. This was well below the 4.2% additional capacity, leading to a two-point slip in collective passenger load factor to 79.1%.

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While capacity expansion of 4% is in line with that offered by airlines in February, traffic growth of 1.5% was well short of the 4.3% growth airlines enjoyed in February.

The distorting impact of the different timing of Easter contributed to passenger load factor falling across virtually all European carriers in March.