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."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
fashionHealth concerns and 'pornified' perceptions have made women more conscious at the beach
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmHe was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
footballA colourful discussion on tactics, the merits of the English footballer and rebuilding Manchester United
Life and Style
Sainsbury's could roll the lorries out across its whole fleet if they are successful
tech
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Travel
The shipping news: a typical Snoozebox construction
travelSpending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Arts and Entertainment
'Old Fashioned' will be a different kind of love story to '50 Shades'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Arts and Entertainment
Smart mover: Peter Bazalgette
filmHow live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
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

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

Graduate / Trainee Recruitment Consultant - IT

£25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: Orgtel are seeking Graduate Trainee Re...

HR Business Partner - Banking Finance - Brentwood - £45K

£45000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: ** HR Business Partner - Senior H...

PA / Team Secretary - Wimbledon

£28000 - £32000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: PA / Team Secretary - Mat...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz