Aer Lingus long-haul numbers rise by 8%

Aer Lingus is adding another aircraft to its transatlantic route following figures which show that despite the recession its long-haul routes are remaining popular.

Figures released by Aer Lingus show that long-haul flights were 85.7% full, up more than 8% on Nov 2011, despite an increase in capacity by 1.3%.

A spokesperson for the airline said that there had been good demand for transatlantic flights fed by the airline’s American partners.

“Buoyant demand for transatlantic flights. A lot of transfer business from Jetblue, with people travelling to Chicago and New York before transferring to Aer Lingus to cross the Atlantic. Business-class cabin loads have been good too,” the spokesperson said.

To capitalise on the demand Aer Lingus is adding an extra aircraft to transatlantic routes from next March which will fly four additional flights to Chicago, two to Boston and one to Orlando.

However, a Davy’s note on the state of the airline market said that low-cost carriers such as Ryanair and Easy jet continue to outperform the market.

Ryanair has reported traffic growth of 5% with loads flat at 80%. On comparable short-haul routes Aer Lingus’s load factor was 70.5%, down 3.1% on Nov 2011, with capacity decreasing by 2.7%. However Davy’s noted that short-haul performance was adversely impacted by threatened industrial action in the month.

As competition between airlines continues, EU regulators are studying the effect that the proposed takeover of Aer Lingus by Ryanair would have.

EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said that the investigation had not yet become critical. “They are not yet at the critical stage,” he said.

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