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Ryanair: Flights 78% Full in March

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Today, Ryanair made public its March 2007 passenger numbers and “load factor,” or number of passengers as a proportion of commercially available seats. For the third straight month, the airline has carried fewer passengers per flight than it did over the same months in 2006. While January load factor was down 3% from 2006 numbers, February saw a load factor decrease of 1% against last year’s figures. This 1% decrease remained the same in March. The airline filled 78% of its seats this past month, against a 79% load factor in March 2006.

In terms of the number of passengers carried, however, Ryanair continues to knock the socks off its low-cost competitors. In March 2007, the airline carried 26% more passengers than it did in March 2006.

We’ve been monitoring Ryanair’s passenger tallies and load factors versus Sky Europe‘s. The Slovak low-cost carrier came out on top of Ryanair in head-to-head battles in January and February. We look forward to getting a look at their March numbers soon.

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Alex Robertson Textor

About the author: Alex Robertson Textor is a London-based travel writer and editor. He has written for Rough Guides, the New York Times, and Public Books, among other publications; he also guided the tablet magazine Travel by Handstand to two SATW Foundation Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism awards. With Pam Mandel, he writes copy and generates ideas as White Shoe Travel Content. He is on Twitter as @textorian and maintains his own blog, www.alexrobertsontextor.com.

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One Response to “Ryanair: Flights 78% Full in March”

Michael says:

It may also be that Ryanair flights aren’t quite as cheap as they used to be.
In early 2005, taxes+charges were roughly 12 GBP or 18 EUR on a one-way flight. Now, one should reckon on about 20 GBP per one-way flight, with some flights having 23 GBP in taxes + charges ! A rise from 24 GBP to 46 GBP is not explained fully by the UK Govt raising departure tax by 5 GBP

The cost of the plane + fuel + staff is fixed – difficult to do much about this, particularly now that the travel slump post Sept 11th is well and truly over.

Given a single airfare of 25 GBP, suppose the cost per passenger is 20 GBP. Now raise the fare to 27.5 GBP – still plenty of potential customers. Profit has now increased from 5 GBP to 7.5 GBP – i.e. 50% rise.
Ryanair now has plenty of market power in the European short-haul market – I suspect they’ve just been quietly raising fares so that passengers become much more profitable.

For a plane holding 189 seats, with a 78% load factor, if each person pays an additional 2 GBP, that’s an extra 295 GBP. A 1% drop in load factor means 2 fewer passengers, so losing (e.g.) 50 GBP. Result is a gain of 245 GBP

Load factor might be ever so slightly down, but if on a particular route there are no other low-cost competitors, you can raise your fares a little bit and get away with it.

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