AEA Airlines: 5.6 Million additional passengers in 2013
The Association of European Airlines’ members boarded 5.5 million more passenger in 2013 compared to the previous year, an increase of 1.6%. Coupled with record load factors, this is an encouraging result in an economic climate that remains stubbornly downbeat. Nonetheless, preliminary data point to another year of poor revenue yield development, creating another hurdle to be surmounted in the long-awaited recovery in the industry’s bottom line.
The 29 participating airlines welcomed a total of 375 million passengers on board their domestic, European and intercontinental flights in 2013. The greatest proportional increase was on long-haul flights which registered a passenger growth of 3.5%. On routes within Europe, including domestic services, passenger growth was limited to just 1%.
The greater emphasis on long-haul traffic produced an increase in passenger-km – a more usual measure of passenger volume – of 2.7%. Whilst well below historical performance, this nonetheless reflects a resilience in the market to the poor economic conditions. Capacity, measured in seat-km, grew by 1.7%, resulting in a 0.7-point increase in load factor to an all-time high 79.9%.
The overall passenger load factor improved last year by 0.7 % points to a record high 79.9%. Intra-European flights reached an average load factor of 75.5 % (plus 1.5 % points). An average 83.3 percent of the seats on intercontinental flights were sold (plus 0.4 % points).
The USA remains by far the largest long haul market for AEA airlines, accounting for nearly 12 million passengers in 2013, with 330 daily transatlantic flights in the peak season. Mainland China is the second intercontinental destination with 2.1 million passengers. AEA airlines now offer services to eleven destinations in China compared to 6 just five years ago.
While the consolidated AEA figures show encouraging signs of recovery in volume of business following a downturn that started back in 2007 their financial performance remains challenging. With incomplete 2013 financial results available to date, AEA’s best estimate is that the annual outcome will be for an EBIT (Earnings Before Interest and Tax) for 2013 close to break-even.