Ryanair defies the downturn while BA's passengers slump

BRITISH Airways (BA) said yesterday the number of passengers flying with the airline had fallen yet again last month, as holiday-goers and business travellers continue to opt for budget travel.<br /><br />The number of passengers carried fell 3.4 per cent to 2.3m, the airline said, while passenger capacity fell 6.2 per cent through the reduction in planes and routes. <br /><br />But passenger load factor, which measures how full the airline&rsquo;s planes were, went up 1.5 percentage points to 75.9 per cent.<br /><br />&ldquo;Volumes and yields in non-premium and shorthaul premium are stable. However, longhaul premium is showing signs of improvement with volumes above the levels of last year and yields improving,&rdquo; said BA. <br /><br />Meanwhile, budget carrier Ryanair, which is cashing in on the downturn and pulling customers away from airlines like BA, said yesterday it had carried 4.96m passengers over the month, 15 per cent more than a year ago, with the average flight slightly fuller than last year. <br /><br />Its load factor went up by 1 percentage point compared with the same month of 2008 to 80 per cent of capacity.