Airline passenger numbers up 8.8%

Passenger numbers increased at Aer Lingus by 8.8%, on a year-on-year basis, last month.

In total, 599,000 people travelled via the airline in February.

This figure included the company’s regional code- share agreement with Aer Arann — which covers secondary routes between Ireland and Britain, for which seats are booked through Aer Lingus.

The regional service has been included in Aer Lingus’s monthly customer statistics since the second half of last year.

Excluding that regional option, Aer Lingus’s direct passenger numbers grew by 7.5% last month, against the same time last year.

Short-haul numbers were up by 6.9%, to 554,000; long-haul passengers were up by 15.4% to 45,000 and numbers on the regional routes rose by just under 23% to 59,000.

At the end of last month, Aer Lingus reported a 6% increase in full-year revenues, for 2011, to €1.29bn; but a 6.4% fall in operating profit due to higher fuel and airport costs.

Management said that it expects the company to remain “significantly profitable” this year.

However, to achieve this it said that the airline will have to drive increased passenger volumes and generate a higher average yield per seat across its network.

Aer Lingus’s fuel bill could rise by €60m this year, as rising fuel costs remain the single biggest threat to the company’s profitability.

During 2011, Aer Lingus carried 9.51 million passengers, a 1.8% annual increase.

The February statistics, meanwhile, also showed a 1% year-on-year increase in load factor — the amount of seats on its planes which were actually filled, rather than just sold — to 67.3%.


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