Low-cost carriers, such as Ryanair and Wizz Air, have reported a strong September, as people across Europe continue to travel against the backdrop of a volatile economic climate.
Ryanair reported that 15.9 million passengers flew aboard its planes last month – making September the second-busiest month ever after August’s record 16.9 million travellers.
The carrier’s load factor also increased, going up 13 per cent on pre-Covid levels to 94% per cent.
The airliner – which expects to carry 166.5 million people in the year to the end of March – said it will continue to grow, even amidst an economic recession.
“People in a recession will get much more price sensitive,” chief executive Michael O’Leary told reporters in late August.
“We will see a much larger number of people trading down from British Airways and Easyjet.”
According to several aviation experts – including analyst Sally Gethin and aviation professor Francesco Ragni – low-cost airlines will continue to thrive compared with legacy rivals.
“These airlines are well insulated from challenges unlike the large legacy airlines,” Gethin told City A.M.
“They have a lower unit cost, hey operate younger more fuel efficient fleets, they hedged against rising jet fuel costs, and their lower fares make them more attractive to customers who have less spending ability due to cost of living.
“They are broadening their geographic networks and have placed huge orders for new aircraft to deliver these services.”
To capitalise on people’s appetite for cheap travel, Ryanair added 21 routes to its UK schedule, while rival Wizz Air expanded operations in eastern Europe and Italy.
The Budapest-based airline carried 4.6 million passengers in September – 51 per cent up on 2021 level – with a load factor of 87 per cent.
Numbers, however, went down slightly from the summer peak of July and August, which reported 4.7 and 4.9 million people respectively.