LONDON – The International Airlines Group (IAG)—which includes British Airways (BA), Iberia (IB), Vueling (VY), Aer Lingus (EI), and Openskies (LV)—reports that its total traffic increased by 6% in May, with capacity also rising by 5.3%.
The group handled 10.3 million passengers during this month, which is up 4.1% compared to 9.97 million in the same period last year.
The annual numbers now see IAG handling 44.6 million passengers during the first five months of the year, compared to 42.1 million in the same period in 2018. Load factors across the board also climbed by 0.5% cent to 83.2%.
Individually, BA’s passenger numbers grew 2.4% to 4.2 million, compared to 4.1 million in the same period last year.
As a yearly total so far, 18.6 million passengers have been carried this year by the British flag carrier, which is a 3% rise from last year’s 18.1 million.
Load factors remain steady, however, with a 1.1% growth in the month to 82.7% as well as a 0.8% growth to 80.9% for the annual figure.
The airline boasts a fleet of 277 planes, expecting to take delivery of its first Airbus A350-1000, which was recently fully painted in Toulouse, France.
British Airways expects to receive 18 A350-1000s, starting from July 2019. This order was placed by IAG in 2013, consisting of 18 planes plus 18 options.
The A350-1000 order comes in addition to 18 Boeing 787 options which the conglomerated had previously committed to.
The airline is planning to replace its aging Boeing 747-400s with the brand-new incoming planes. British Airways has noted that the retirement of the Queen of the Skies will take between four to five years, ending in 2023.
The group’s second-largest carrier, Iberia, also reported a 4.8% increase in passenger numbers from 1.7 million to 1.87 million, with annual totals so far up by 7.3% at 8.6 million.
Load factors remain steady, with a 0.3% growth to 85% for the month and an 0.5% growth for the year at 85.6%.
Last year, the airline announced a significant expansion plan throughout its network to Brazil, Uruguay, Ecuador, Argentina, and Peru. The airline has also had new planes join the fleet, as well as the introduction of new cabin products.
The group’s Irish carrier, Aer Lingus, didn’t grow as expected, dropping 0.3% for passenger numbers in May 2019. 1.081 million passengers were flown during this period, compared to 1.084 million in the previous year.
Load factors for the month grew 0.5% from 79.9% to 80.4%, with yearly numbers growing 0.3% from 76.4% to 76.7%.
Yearly passenger numbers so far at this point are at 4.27 million, which is 5.7% up compared to 4.04 million in 2018.
The Irish carrier unveiled its new livery and corporate image at an event in Dublin, revealing a predominantly white scheme, getting rid of the green fuselage.
According to Aer Lingus, the new brand identity supports the airline’s ambition to be the leading value carrier across the North Atlantic.
One part of Aer Lingus’s ambitious plans is to utilize its incoming fleet of new Airbus A321LR (Long range) aircraft on a variety of routes to the East Coast of the United States of America.
The new long-range version of Airbus’s successful A321 will position the carrier to serve thinner transatlantic routes, where passenger numbers are not enough to sustain widebody aircraft such as the A330, which have traditionally been flown using the venerable single-aisle Boeing 757.
With the arrival of these new planes, passenger numbers are expected to climb while efficiencies should yield more profits for the carrier.
The group’s newest member and low-cost carrier, Level, recorded a whopping 544% increase from 25,000 passengers handled in May 2018 to 161,000 in May 2019.
Annual passenger counts are also up 432.7% from 113,000 to 602,000 respectively.
Load factors, however, have taken a significant dip, with it dropping 8.3% in May 2019 to 82.6% as well as in the year, dropping 8.6% to 80.3% overall.
These load factors numbers are expected to climb significantly now that the busy European summer season is about to begin.
In May, just over a year since its 2018 creation in Paris, the airline announced a new, non-stop service from Paris-Orly Airport (ORY) to Las Vegas-McCarran International Airport (LAS), set to launch in October.
Lastly, Vueling has also remained steady, with a 3.4% increase in May’s numbers to 3.05 million passengers.
Annual counts are up 5.8% currently to 12.4 million passengers, up from 11.7 million last year.
Load factors dropped 1.4% in the month to 84.5% but remain in the green by 0.3% for the year at 83.9% overall.
Positive, Steady Growth
IAG’s overall numbers seem quite stable despite a few dips in load factors. The group’s expansion into regional and long-haul markets should position its carriers in a prime spot, with a large batch of incoming planes to meet the increasing demand that’s expected for the summer season.
Either way, passenger numbers still remain strong and will be set for some strong annual numbers come to the end of the financial year.