Airlines' passenger traffic drops 24pc as ash cloud lingers
SCHEDULED air passenger traffic between the UK and Ireland collapsed by 24pc to 695,619 in May as volcanic ash clouds continued to hit flights.
Figures from Britain's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) show sharp declines across most routes, with the May slide following a 38pc year-on-year slump in April, when just 565,296 passengers flew. That was the lowest monthly number since February 1998.
Between Dublin and Heathrow, the busiest service, passenger numbers fell 8pc to 121,046, while on Dublin to Gatwick, the figure was 27pc lower at 64,591.
The CAA data reveals that Cityjet's Dublin-London City service continued to perform well, with traveller numbers rising during May by 27pc year-on-year to 15,551. That followed a 19pc rise in April.
Aer Arann, which operates a franchised service on a number of UK-Ireland routes in conjunction with Aer Lingus, saw a stabilisation of passenger loads on its Cardiff-Dublin route after recording a 12pc year-on-year decline in April as flights across Europe were grounded for a number of days.
Ryanair's service between Gatwick and Shannon carried half as many passengers in May, 8,665, as it did a year ago.
The Icelandic volcano eruption caused widespread air disruption across Europe. Ryanair has pencilled in losses of €50m, while it cost Aer Lingus an estimated €20m in April alone.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has forecast that European airlines will post a €2.3bn loss this year.