Major European LCCs; only easyJet, Norwegian and Ryanair still growing in November but load factors are up

Image: Ryanair’s 12 Days of christmas
Rare growth: the ability to relentlessly discount – including its just-launched 12 days of Christmas seat sale – helped Ryanair to stay in the exclusive club of airlines which are still growing.

Latest available figures for eight of Europe’s biggest LCCs shows that only three of them (easyJet, Norwegian and Ryanair) reported increased passenger numbers in November compared with the previous year. Aer Lingus which had reported growth in its short-haul markets in October saw traffic slip by just over 1% in November.

Chart: European LCCs: Passenger growth 2008 v 2007
Source: Airline websites, UK CAA

SkyEurope, which was still growing in September, saw traffic down over 20% in November as load factors fell below 70%. However, Vueling’s traffic was down over 25% in both October and November, though its financial results are improving significantly.

Chart: European LCCs: Monthly load factors 2008
Source: Airline websites, AENA, UK CAA
Note: bmibaby, clickair and figures are flown load factor while rest are booked load factors (which include no-shows)

Load factors continued to fall in October and November as is traditional for European carriers. Vueling and clickair (based on its Barcelona routes) had the lowest load factors while easyJet was the only LCC to report a load factor of better than 80% in November.

On a positive note seven of nine airlines reported higher load factors in November compared with the previous year with Norwegian’s seat occupancy rate down just 0.6 percentage points and SkyEurope down only 1.2 percentage points. In September only easyJet had reported an improvement in year-on-year load factor.


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