Passengers switch to low cost airlines

[October 6th 2008]

easyJet flight

Despite the doom and gloom facing the airline industry and the economy low cost airlines are continuing to report record passenger numbers.

Budget airline easyJet’s passenger numbers were up 22.1% in September this year compared to the same month last year. The no frills airline carried a total of almost 4.2 million passengers in the month, compared to just over 3.4 million in the previous September.

Cynics might put the increase down mostly to the growing number of routes that easyJet and other low cost airlines are offering. But crucially easyJet’s load factors – the measure of how full aircraft were – also increased, up by 1.8% to 86.9% in September 2008.

easyJet’s main low cost airline rival, Ryanair, also reported a huge increase in passengers in September. Passenger numbers were up by 20% in the month to a total of 5.23 million. Load factors for the Irish airline were however down marginally, from 85% to 84%. For the year to the end of September 2008 Ryanair carried a total of 56 million passengers.

Ryanair’s head of communications, Stephen McNamara, comments: “Having achieved record passenger numbers throughout the summer we showed no sign of slowdown in September with 5.23 million passengers taking advantage of Ryanair’s guaranteed lowest fares and no fuel surcharge”.

McNamara suggests that the credit crunch and financial crisis may even be working in Ryanair’s favour: “A lot of price sensitive leisure passengers have switched from rival, high fares airlines, to Ryanair. However, in light of the current crisis in banking and financial institutions we are confident that we will soon see more bankers migrate to Ryanair also”.

“Tougher economic times will see these bankers tighten the purse strings and save time and money by taking advantage of our guaranteed lowest fares and our unrivalled punctuality,” McNamara adds.

Last month Ryanair said it hoped to break even for the year ending March 31st 2009 providing the price of oil remains at around $100 a barrel.

Written by: Nick Purdom


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