The Association of European Airlines’ members boarded 5.6 million more passengers in 2013 compared to the previous year, an increase of 1.6%. Coupled with record load factors, this is an encouraging result in an economic climate that remains stubbornly downbeat. Nonetheless, preliminary data point to another year of poor revenue yield development, creating another hurdle to be surmounted in the long-awaited recovery in the industry’s bottom line.
The 29 participating airlines welcomed a total of 375 million passengers on board their domestic, European and intercontinental flights in 2013. The greatest proportional increase was on long-haul flights which registered a passenger growth of 3.5%. On routes within Europe, including domestic services, passenger growth was limited to just 1%.
The greater emphasis on long-haul traffic produced an increase in passenger-km – a more usual measure of passenger volume – of 2.7%. Whilst well below historical performance, this nonetheless reflects a resilience in the market to the poor economic conditions. Capacity, measured in seat-km, grew by 1.7%, resulting in a 0.7-point increase in load factor to an all-time high 79.9%.
The USA remains by far the largest long haul market for AEA airlines, accounting for nearly 12 million passengers in 2013, with 330 daily transatlantic flights in the peak season. Mainland China is the second intercontinental destination with 2.1 million passengers. AEA airlines now offer services to eleven destinations in China compared to 6 just five years ago.
While the consolidated AEA figures show encouraging signs of recovery in volume of business following a downturn that started back in 2007 their financial performance remains challenging. With incomplete 2013 financial results available to date, AEA’s best estimate is that the annual outcome will be for an EBIT (Earnings Before Interest and Tax) for 2013 close to break-even.
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ABOUT AEA: The Association of European Airlines (AEA) brings together 30 European established scheduled network carriers. These collectively carry nearly 400 million passengers and 5,5 million tonnes of cargo each year, operating 2,550 aircraft serving 600 destinations in 160 countries with 10,000 flights a day. They provide around 370,000 jobs directly, and generate a total turnover of €100 billion.