AER Lingus long-haul passenger numbers fell sharply again last month with further declines expected this year.
The carrier’s short-haul passenger numbers rosealmost 4% however, to 608,000 while long haul passengers plunged 23% to 57,000.
Overall passenger numbers rose 0.6% to 665,000 in January compared with a year earlier.
The load factor of percentage of seats filled in the month was 67.4%, an increase of 3.1 points.
Aer Lingus said the poor weather conditions early last month meant there was a difference in booked and flown passengers.
The airline has increased short haul capacity every month throughout the downturn except in February and March 2009, driven presumably by the opening of the new Gatwick base last year, according to Goodbody analyst, Marina Devitt.
“This growth will be tempered going forward as two of five aircraft are due to be taken out of the base from the end of March 2010. However, we could see further improvement on the short-haul side coming through from the Aer Arann partnership,” she said.
On the long-haul side, over the last five months capacity has reduced 20% to 26%, due to the removal of the Los Angeles and San Francisco routes.
“The airline only began cutting capacity on the long haul side in December 2008, so we would expect the decline over the coming months to moderate, reflecting these positive base effects.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved