Aer Lingus passenger numbers take off

Aer Lingus and Easyjet have published figures suggesting the end of the summer staycation.

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 19 Sep 2013
Cornwall residents, breathe a sigh of relief: the number of passengers on Aer Lingus flights increased by 0.9% in August compared with the year before. Does this mean the annual descent of hoards of recession-stricken ‘staycation’ types to the Cornish coast is coming to an end?

Figures published by Easyjet this morning appear to corroborate that: passenger numbers during August rose 3.9% year-on-year, while annual passenger numbers for the 12 months ending in August were up 4.1%.

For Aer Lingus, it was a mixed bag: short-haul passenger numbers dropped by 0.8% on August 2012, although long haul passengers increased 17.5%. The airline is clearly focusing its energies on long haul: it said it had increased capacity by 15.7%. That could be to provide room for the increase in the number of business travellers - even consultants fly budget these days, you know.

Is this good news for Michael O’Leary’s Ryanair? The airline is in the process of (sort of) selling off its 29.8% stake in Aer Lingus, after the Competition Commission thwarted its plans for a full takeover by ordering it to reduce its holding to just 5%.

When O’Leary announced the sale of its stake in July (before the CC stuck its oar in), he imposed a caveat: the airline will only sell it to ‘any other EU airline that… obtains acceptances from 50.1% of Aer Lingus shareholders’. That’s a pretty tough condition: if we didn’t know better, we’d say Ryanair doesn’t actually want to sell its stake…

Still, at least improved passenger figures will make a sale easier. If that’s what O’Leary wants...

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