Aer Lingus traffic falls in August

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Passenger numbers at Aer Lingus continued to fall in August, slipping 7.1 per cent as the airline cut its capacity on some routes.

The airline carried just over 1 million passengers last month, with short haul passengers falling 6.2 per cent to 913,000 and long-haul travellers declining 14.7 per cent to 99,000. Overall capacity fell 13.3 per cent, with short haul routes down 4.5 per cent and long haul routes falling 27.3 per cent.

Overall load factor, a measure of how full the flights are, was up 2.7 per cent to 85.7 per cent. Long haul load factor was up 10.2 per cent compared to 2009, to 89.9 per cent, but short haul flights saw load factor fall 1.2 per cent to 83.8 per cent.

Aer Lingus passenger figures for the year to date were also weaker, falling 9.4 per cent to 6.6 million.

Short haul passenger numbers fell 8.1 per cent over the period to 6 million, while long haul passengers were down 20 per cent to 604,000.

The falling short haul load factors did not raise concerns among brokers.

"Airlines are taking advantage of a later consumer booking profile and are therefore not as focused on stimulating demand by lowering yields, which is why we believe Aer Lingus and Ryanair have a slightly decreased short-haul load factor," said Davy analyst Joshua Goldman.

The statistics do not include traffic carried on Aer Lingus rRegional Services, which is a partnership with Aer Arann, now in examinership. The airline is not believed to be interested in investing in Aer Arann.

Aer Lingus also has a Washington Dulles - Madrid codeshare service operated in partnership with United Airlines.

Last month, Aer Lingus posted a loss of €20.8 million for the first six months of this year, 80 per cent lower than the €81.7 million for the same period of 2009.

Chief executive Christoph Mueller said the airline's operating result for the year should be “no worse than break even” as it improved yields, cut fuel costs, and made savings in staff expenses.

The airline is currently trying to resolve a dispute with cabin crew on new rostering arrangements, which is part of a €97 million cost-saving plan.

Shares in the airline were down 0.4 per cent to just over 91 cent this afternoon on the Dublin market.

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