Aer Lingus' summer air traffic boosted by short haul flights to budget beaches

IRISH low cost airline Aer Lingus said yesterday its total passenger numbers for August were up 7.7 per cent year-on-year, as it flew 1.09m people over the summer month.<br /><br />The airline put the boost down to a 10 per cent surge in short-haul flights to cheap holiday destinations.<br /><br />Aer Lingus flew 973,000 short haul passengers last month, up from 885,000 last year. But just 116,000 flyers used the group for long-haul flights, well down on the 127,000 it flew in 2008.<br /><br />The carrier&rsquo;s overall load factor &ndash; which measures how full its planes are &ndash; went up 2.4 per cent to 83 per cent.<br /><br />The load factor for short-haul at the airline, which counts the Irish government as a major shareholder, went up by two percentage points to 85 per cent, as capacity rose by 10.7 per cent.<br /><br />The long-haul load factor at Aer Lingus also increased by two percentage points to 79.7 per cent, as its capacity slumped by 14.8 per cent, the airline said.<br /><br />The news comes a month after Aer Lingus said its losses had almost quadrupled to &euro;93m (&pound;81.4m) in the first six months of 2009, after revenues fell by 12 per cent to &euro;555m.<br /><br />The carrier blamed the drop in revenue on a 17 per cent fall in average plane fares and increasing fuel costs.<br /><br />Carriers worldwide are struggling in the economic downturn as holidaymakers and business travellers cut back on foreign trips.