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EasyJet passenger figures hit as ash cloud chaos takes its toll on airlines

EasyJet today revealed the true cost of the volcanic ash cloud which grounded planes for six days and left the airline industry reeling.

The budget carrier had 3.49m passengers last month – down 7.6 per cent on April last year.

The figure was also under the 4.3m expected before the eruption in Iceland. The spread of ash from the Iceland crippled European air traffic for nearly a week and left millions of passengers stranded abroad, with travel companies forced to pick up[ the tab.

British Airways last month said that the lost passenger and freight revenue together with the costs incurred on supporting passengers was between £15m and £20m a day. Some 200,000 easyJet passengers were stranded as a result of the disruption caused by the ash cloud.

Panmure Gordon analyst Gert Zonneveld said: “The April traffic stats were heavily impacted by the volcanic ash disruption, which forced the cancellation of a large number of flights.”

He added: “We retain our buy recommendation.”

EasyJet said its load factor, which measures the number of passengers as a proportion of available seats, increased from 84.2 per cent in April last year to 85.2 per cent.

The airline has carried 46.9m passengers in the past 12 months, up from 44.4m on the year before.