Aer Lingus announced that it carried 563,000 passengers in January up 6% with a load factor of 62.3% up 0.1%. The airline carried 49,000 long-haul passengers up 2.1% with a load factor of 61.8% down 3.9% and 514,000 short-haul passengers up 6.2% with a load factor of 62.5% up 2%.
The Aer Lingus Regional Franchise operation carried 53,000 passengers up 26.2% and as usual the figures exclude traffic on the UAL Washington Dulles-Madrid JV route. Aer Lingus Regional is to base a second ATR72 in Shannon from the 26th of March and increase frequencies from its Cork and Dublin Bases and launch a new route from Dublin to Bournemouth.
Ryanair announced that it carried 4.39 million passengers in January down 6% with a load factor of 71% and in the rolling 12 months to the end of January it carried 76.2 million passengers.
The carrier flagged the reduction due to the 80 parked Boeing 737-800s but the passenger number should improve with the opportunities to place a number of the parked aircraft into Barcelona (Spanair) and Budapest (Malev), as opportunities arise as a result of on-going consolidation.
The carrier announced last Friday it was establishing a new base in Budapest following the collapse of Malev Airlines with four Boeing 737-800s and 26 routes with 2 million passengers, the airline prior to the base announcement launched re-instated five routes to Budapest including Dublin which will now operate four times weekly instead of the planned twice weekly prior to the collapse of Malev Airlines.
Aer Lingus and Ryanair will be in a position to leverage their market strength ex Ireland as the airline industry continues to consolidate at a rapid rate, with strong balance sheets and low unit costs, with the flexibility to match capacity to demand.  A key issue for airlines yet to be resloved is airport access costs.

Irish Aviation Research Institute © 6th Feburary 2012 All Rights Reserved.