Latest data from the 30-plus members of the Association of European Airlines (AEA) shows that passenger numbers in the first seven months of 2011 are up 8.4% to almost 207 million. Capacity (ASKs) is up 9.9% while traffic (RPKs) is up 8.8%, resulting in a load factor drop of 0.8 percentage points to 76.4%.
Monthly figures for individual geographic markets highlight dramatically the on-going slump in traffic to and from North Africa as a result of the various political developments in the region this year. In each of the last two months (June and July) overall passenger numbers across all regions have been up a respectable 6.0%, but domestic traffic has been down marginally in both months.
In July there was double-digit traffic growth on South Atlantic routes (+16%) and Far East / Australasia routes (+15%). Year to date growth has been highest on cross-border European routes (+11.6%), Far East / Australasia (+11.0%) and South Atlantic (+10.4%).
AeroSvit and Ukraine International lead growth rankings
In the first seven months of 2011 23 of the 30 AEA member airlines that report traffic figures reported growth, with 13 airlines even reporting an increase in passenger number of more than 10%. Leading the way with growth of 104.5% is AeroSvit, which also reported an improvement of 4.2 percentage points in its average load factor to 72.3%. Another Ukrainian carrier, Ukraine International, ranked second with growth of 38.6%. Its load factor also improved, by 5.7 percentage points to 63.6%.
The seven airlines that welcomed fewer guests on board comprised the flag-carriers of the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Malta, Romania and Spain, plus two UK carriers; Virgin Atlantic and bmi British Midland International.
Load factors down overall but up at 15 of 30 airlines
Overall year to date load factor has fallen by almost a whole percentage point to 76.4%, but 15 of the 30 reporting airlines still managed to increase their load factor compared with 2010. The biggest percentage point increases have been achieved by JAT Airways (plus 9.1 points), Croatia Airlines (plus 6.7 points), Air Malta (plus 6.3 points), Ukraine International Airlines (plus 5.7 points) and airBaltic (plus 5.2 points).
For the year to July as a whole just three AEA member airlines reported average load factors in excess of 80%, with KLM (83.3%) beating Iberia (81.4%) and Swiss (81.1%). The lowest load factors in the first seven months of 2011 have been reported by Tarom (57.6%), bmi (56.2%) and Luxair (56.1%).