Wednesday 5 May 2021 8:26 am

Airline passenger numbers creep higher as holidaymakers await green light

Covid-19 passenger restrictions continued to squeeze airlines’ passenger numbers in April, a year on from the start of the pandemic, although there were some chinks of light for the sector.

Ryanair said it flew 1m people last month, twice as many as it did in March, but still millions short of its normal capacity.

Compared to April 2020, when the pandemic first hit, the figure is a huge improvement – but amidst worldwide carnage the carrier did only manage to fly 40,000 people.

On a rolling basis, that means the Irish airline has flown 28.5m people in the last 12 months. By this time last year, the figure was 135.1m, a decline of over three-quarters.

It was much the same story for Hungarian airline Wizz Air, which flew around 560,000 passengers, up from 480,000 last month.

Again, the figure is almost eight times as many passengers as it carried in the same month in 2020, when just 80,000 people took its flights.

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Over the last 12 months, Wizz Air has now carried 10.7m people, down from 36.8m at the same point last year.

Despite yet another month of negligible passenger numbers, airline bosses will be crossing their fingers that the end to the pandemic is now in sight, at least in Europe and North America.

This week the UK government is expected to publish its first travel lists, showing where people can travel free of restrictions from 17 May.

Yesterday the Foreign Office updated its guidance for Portugal, Israel, and the islands of Spain and Greece, clearing the way for them to end up on the “green list” of destinations.

And earlier this week the EU proposed letting member states ease their restrictions on non-essential travel.

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