British Airways sees volumes and yields stabilising in Nov-2009


British Airways, upon the release of its Nov-2009 traffic highlights stated volumes and yields in non-premium and short haul premium markets are now "stable", with long haul premium demand "showing signs of improvement" with volumes above Nov-2008 levels and yields "improving".

In the month, the carrier experienced a 1.7% reduction in premium traffic, for 15 consecutive months of contractions, and a 4.8% reduction in non-premium traffic. The carrier added that within the premium cabins, Club World traffic up 1.5%, while Club Europe was down 20% on a year-on-year basis.

However, premium traffic comparisons are starting to be against a weaker base, with both premium and non-premium traffic growth in negative territory from Nov-2008.

British Airways premium and non-premium traffic contractions (year-on-year): May-2007 to Nov-2009

Another encouraging sign is that the 12-month moving average of British Airways' premium demand showed signs of improvement last month, following a stabilisation in Aug/Sep-2009, down by 11.8% in Nov-2009.

British Airways' passenger numbers growth: Two-year change and 12 month moving average: May-2008 to Nov-2009

Also in the month, the carrier reduced capacity (ASKs) by 6.2%, with traffic (RPKs) down 4.3%, resulting in a 1.5 ppt load factor improvement to 75.9%.

Double-digit yield and unit revenue reductions in 1H2009

BA, upon the release of its financial results for the six months ended Sep-2009, reported a 12.2% reduction in yields (passenger revenue per RPK) to GBP 5.99 pence (or down 18.2%, excluding exchange), with PRASM (passenger revenue per ASK) down 10.9% to GBP 4.83 pence. These double-digit reductions were "largely as a result of lower year-on-year surcharges and sales mix within cabin class".

Cargo yields, meanwhile, declined by an even greater level, falling 24.8% in the six month period (to GBP 11.21 pence), driven by significantly lower levels of fuel surcharges, in line with lower fuel prices and "significant market price declines".

The airline added that it hoped to report growth in overall passenger volumes again in the New Year. It previously stated, "in January, the comparative figures take another step down and there's every chance of getting into positive territory then".

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