Aer Lingus 'is now among the best airlines in Europe'
Transatlantic passenger numbers up 17.2pc
Aer Lingus has become "one of the best airlines in Europe", according to stockbroking firm Goodbody, after the carrier delivered a strong increase in long-haul passenger numbers in June.
The number of transatlantic passengers flying with Aer Lingus jumped 17.2pc to 116,000 last month as the airline added more capacity as interest in the Government's Gathering initiative gained pace.
Fresh passenger figures from Aer Lingus underscore the resurgence of its long-haul business – a far cry from just a few years ago when the economic slump forced it to drastically cull capacity and axe services to cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco.
This week, the airline confirmed plans to relaunch the Dublin-San Francisco route and to fly to Toronto from the capital.
Aer Lingus had added 15.5pc additional capacity on its long-haul routes by last June compared to June 2012, having increased frequencies to cities including Boston and New York.
From the end of March, the carrier started offering two flights a day between Dublin and New York and Dublin and Boston.
Aer Lingus also said that its short-haul load factor – or percentage of available seats filled – rose 3.5 percentage points to 81.6pc in June. For long-haul services, the number was 2.1 percentage points higher at 94.5pc. That's a record for the airline.
"Aer Lingus has become one of the best airlines in Europe following a period of extensive restructuring and capacity consolidation," said analyst Donal O'Neill at Goodbody Stockbrokers.
The Aer Lingus short-haul segment is more subdued. Aer Lingus said its short-haul passenger numbers rose 1.7pc in June to 833,000, as capacity on the services fell 2.8pc.
Overall, Aer Lingus passenger numbers climbed 3.4pc to 949,000 in June.
The figures show that, in the year to date, short-haul passenger numbers at the airline have barely budged, rising just 0.1pc to 4.08 million. Long-haul numbers have risen 12.7pc to 488,000.
But the Aer Lingus figures also point to static activity in June at Aer Lingus Regional. That service is operated on a franchise agreement by Aer Arann on behalf of Aer Lingus.
Aer Lingus Regional carried 95,000 passengers in June – the exact same as in June last year.