Belfast Telegraph

Aer Lingus figures smoked by volcano

Irish airline Aer Lingus has announced that passenger numbers dropped almost 10% in May.

The carrier said in a stock market filing that there were 11 days last month when it did not operate all of its scheduled flights as a consequence of the closure of Irish, UK, and parts of European airspace following the eruption of the volcano in Eyjafjallajoekull, Iceland.

The disruption meant Aer Lingus’ total passenger numbers in May were 876,000, down 9.9% compared to May 2009. Short haul passengers were down 9.6% from the same month a year earlier, to 797,000, and long haul passengers were down 12.2% from May 2009 to 79,000.

However, the carrier did say its load factor — a measure of the percentage of seats filled by fare-paying passengers — was up on the year before in May, mostly because the capacity of flights it was running decreased by 17.7%.

The Dublin-based airline has previously said that the disruption had cost it about €20m in April, but did not give an update on that figure yesterday.

The company is in the process of a major restructure of its operations in a bid to return to profitability, although its Northern Ireland base at Belfast International Airport has so far escaped the cutbacks.

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