BA passenger figures show improvement

BELEAGUERED British Airways (BA) said yesterday it carried one per cent more passengers in July than in the same period a year before, and added that further gains were expected over the rest of the summer.<br /><br />The news comes after the airline reported its first ever first quarter loss last week, and said it saw no signs of recovery in the industry. The carrier, the third largest in Europe, reported losses of &pound;106m in the period.<br /><br />BA added yesterday that its load factor &ndash; which measures how full its planes are &ndash; was up by 3.1 per cent to 84.6 per cent, year-on-year.<br /><br />&ldquo;Underlying volumes and seat factors are expected to improve in the peak summer months,&rdquo; the carrier said, although the number of passengers booking premium first class or business seats continued on its downward slide, falling 11 per cent year-on-year.<br /><br />But the rate of decline in premier traffic fell to its slowest in eight months, the airline said.<br /><br />BA added that its outlook for September, one of the busiest months for airlines, was unknown.<br /><br />&ldquo;People are tending to book much, much later &ndash; September is a big month for business travel but with late bookings, it&rsquo;s hard to see how that will come across,&rdquo; it said.<br /><br />The news came as Irish budget carrier Ryanair said its passenger traffic climbed by 19 per cent last month to 6.7m passengers, setting a new monthly traffic record for the company. Its load factor for the month was 89 per cent &ndash; the same figure as July 2008.<br /><br />&ldquo;Ryanair continues to grow traffic strongly each month as passengers switch to Ryanair&rsquo;s lowest fares,&rdquo; the company said.<br /><br />The carrier, which is Europe&rsquo;s largest budget airline, said it now carries almost three times as many passengers as BA.