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Less passengers for BA

[August 6th 2008]

British Airways carried 3% less passengers this July than last year as the airline crisis continues to deepen.

In what is traditionally one of the busiest months of the year for airline travel, BA was again hit by falling passenger demand. Despite having 3.5% more seats available than in July 2007, the total number of passengers for the airline declined to just over 3 million.

Passenger numbers fell in all markets, with the UK/Europe down 2.2%, the Americas 2.8%, Asia Pacific 3.5%, and Africa/Middle East hardest hit with numbers down by 8.5%.

Overall BA’s load factor – the percentage of seats occupied – was down by 5.4% to 75.8%, meaning that on average flights were just over three quarters full. On flights within the UK and Europe the load factor was down 4.3% to just 73.6%, while the decline was 6.2% to 75.4% in the Americas.

“Market conditions for the industry remain very difficult on the back of high oil prices and a weak economic environment. Long haul premium remains broadly flat versus last year while non-premium bookings remain most sensitive to price changes,” comments BA.

One area that saw a slight rise for BA in July was the sale of premium tickets for First Class and Business Class travel, up by 0.4%. But non-premium traffic was down by 4.1%, as passengers responded to higher fares.

BA’s figures now include data for subsidiary airline OpenSkies, which flies between Paris and New York. OpenSkies will launch a daily service between Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport and New York JFK airport from October 15th.

The gloomy economy is being felt by airlines across the board. Spanish airline Iberia – now in merger talks with BA – reported a loss of €3.99 million for the second quarter and €32.3 million for the half-year. Increasing fuel costs – up €199.5 million – were largely to blame.

And the world’s biggest airline in terms of revenue – Air France-KLM – announced first quarter profits down by 59% to €168 million.