Business

Low-cost airlines report busier January but fill fewer seats on planes

Ryanair said it had to cancel more than 950 flights due to the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Ryanair has said it flew more passengers in January, but revealed it had to cancel more than 950 flights due to the Israel-Hamas conflict
Ryanair planes Ryanair has said it flew more passengers in January, but revealed it had to cancel more than 950 flights due to the Israel-Hamas conflict (Niall Carson/PA)

Ryanair has said it flew more passengers in January, but revealed it had to cancel more than 950 flights due to the Israel-Hamas conflict.

The Dublin-based budget airline said it had 12.2 million customers last month, an increase of 3% on the 11.8 million people it flew during the same month last year.

It ran about 71,000 flights during January, but was forced to cancel flights as a result of the ongoing conflict in Gaza.

The firm’s load factor – an important measure for airlines of how well they are filling the seats on their planes – dipped from 91% to 89% year-on-year.

Ryanair said the load factor reduced because of the removal of its flights from some “pirate” online travel agents in December.

Websites including Booking.com, Kiwi and Kayak decided to take Ryanair off their website, a decision which the airline previously said it “welcomed” because it complained the sites sold its flights without permission.

But it flagged that the move would impact upon ticket revenues as it is forced to slash fares to fill seats, leading it to cut its full-year profit outlook.

Wizz Air said it flew 14% more passengers year-on-year last month
Israel-Hamas conflict Wizz Air said it flew 14% more passengers year-on-year last month (Steve Parsons/PA)

Meanwhile, rival low-cost airline Wizz Air revealed it flew 4.7 million passengers during January, a jump of 14.2% year-on-year.

Its load factor dropped from 86% to 82%, which it said was a result of an increase in one-way traffic and as it also responded to conflict in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, the airline’s CO2 emissions soared by nearly a quarter year-on-year in January, outpacing the rise in passenger numbers.

But it said it continues to report the lowest CO2 emissions per passenger per kilometre among rival airlines, at about 52 grams on average over the past year, describing itself as Europe’s “greenest” low-cost airline.

The firm previously announced that it will restart flights to Tel Aviv in Israel from the beginning of March, from locations including London, Rome, and Budapest.