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easyJet planes flying fuller

February passenger numbers were up

[March 6th 2009]

easyJet flight

Low cost airline easyJet has reported healthy passenger loads for February.

During February easyJet planes flew at 87% capacity, an increase of 2.4% compared to February 2008. The figures suggest that easyJet’s strategy of withdrawing lower yielding flights this winter is paying off. In common with many other airlines, easyJet has cut flights in response to the worldwide recession.

The total number of passengers carried by easyJet in February fell by 6.8% to just over three million. However, for the 12 months to the end of February passenger numbers were up by 13.9% to almost 44.5 million.

The budget airline says capacity measured by available seats for the first half of the current financial year is expected to be ahead of last year by a low single digit percent.

As the airline industry becomes more sensitive about slots at airports, easyJet has sent a letter to all 27 European Commissioners appealing to them not to respond to calls from some airlines to protect slots.

easyJet says that last Friday the Association of European Airlines (AEA) called on the EU to allow its members to keep their slots for one year even if they do not use them.

Under the current EU ‘use it or lose it’ rule, airlines have to use their slots for at least 80% of the time or return them to the slot pool so that other airlines can make use of them.

easyJet feels the move by the AEA is intended to prevent other European airlines from using scarce slots that would be freed-up by cutbacks expected for this year.

“This is not about protecting the industry; it’s about propping-up a few poorly-run, inefficient network airlines with out-dated business models that cannot adapt to the demands of modern consumers,” comments easyJet chief executive, Andy Harrison.

“A slot freeze helps inefficient, legacy airlines to hoard scarce resources from European airlines that are ready and willing to use them. Implementing such a measure would lead to fewer flights, and higher fares, thereby exacerbating the economic situation, not helping it. We must resist this lurch back to the stone age of protectionism,” Harrison urges.

Written by: Nick Purdom

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