British Airways sees fall in premium class passengers

British Airways, the troubled airline, said yesterday its premium first-class and business travel fell more than a quarter in April, confirming fears the air travel industry is still in the grips of a decline.

Passenger traffic across the airline fell 2 per cent on the same month last year. BA, which has slashed thousands of jobs and cut its flight capacity over the past two years in response to the downturn in air travel, said its outlook remained uncertain. "Revenue and forward bookings continue to be impacted by global economic weakness, Sars and the situation in Iraq," the company said. "Forward visibility on revenue and traffic remains limited."

BA's Asia-Pacific routes had the biggest fall in passenger traffic in April, down 22.1 per cent on the same month last year, after the outbreak of Sars. The company's seat load factor, which measures the number of seats filled as a proportion of available seats, worsened 0.4 per cent to 69 per cent compared with April last year. Capacity was reduced by 1.3 per cent, but more travellers have begun flying across the Atlantic to North America.

The airline has faced cut-throat competition from the onslaught of no-frills carriers that have offered customers rock-bottom fares. BA said ticket promotions and the timing of the Easter holidays helped cushion the overall drop in passenger traffic.

A general malaise in the travel industry is, however, affecting many airlines and, even the low-cost carriers are starting to feel the pinch. EasyJet is set to report today a first-half loss of up to £50m, after write-downs from its acquisition of Go and a fall in margins. "BA is seeing a massive drop-off in the number of business travellers – that is a market easyJet is also reasonably exposed to," Gert Zonneveld, an analyst at West LB Panmure, said.

Ryanair, the Irish no-frills carrier, yesterday reported a strong increase in its passenger numbers, up 34 per cent to 1.47 million on the same period last year. But its load factor has dropped 1 per cent on the period last year to 79 per cent.

"Our capacity has increased and with our new Boeing planes, we can take on board 189 passengers. We are also consistently adding new routes – we began flying to 25 new destinations this week," a spokesman for Ryanair said yesterday. Ryanair has this week restarted flights operated by Buzz, the low-cost airline it bought from KLM airlines. Analysts are more concerned at the average price of its fares. EasyJet said in April that in the first half of the year its average fares were down 10 per cent to £37.44.

"We are waiting to hear what easyJet has to say about how the market in the summer will develop," Mr Zonneveld said. "Throughout the winter months we have seen a steep decline in average fares. The market has been very difficult for everyone and there has not been a pick up in bookings. It is hard to see strong pricing in the coming months."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Ashdown Group: Business Analyst - Financial Services - City, London

£50000 - £55000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Business Analyst - Financial Service...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: At SThree, we like to be differe...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Did you know? SThree is the o...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence