UTAir buys 20 ATRs; Aer Lingus traffic down 8.4% in March

Two of Scandinavia's biggest carriers have reported positive traffic growth for March. Norwegian Air Shuttle passenger numbers rose 13% to 1.2 million, although load factors and yields are slipping at the LCC. SAS Group reported overall traffic from its three airlines - Scandinavian Airlines, Wideroe and Blue1 - was up 4.9% to 2 million, but average load factors dropped 5 percentage points.

Aer Lingus traffic was not similarly bouyant, mostly due to the effect of the timing of the Easter holiday period and the carrier cutting back capacity at London Gatwick and Cork airports. Passenger numbers fell 8.4% to 716,000, while load factors dropped 3.7ppts. Aer Lingus shares were 2.6% lower at the close of trading on Thursday, the largest fall among European airline stocks. 

UTair has signed a contract for 20 ATR 72-500s and will use the aircraft to develop new routes in Russia and the Ukraine. UTair operates a fleet of 17 ATRs: 12 ATR 42-300s and three ATR 72-200s in Russia, plus two ATR 42-300s operated by its subsidiary UTair Ukraine. With the delivery of the new 20 ATR 72-500s, UTair will become the largest operator of ATR aircraft in Europe.

Selected European daily share price movements (% change): 07-Apr-2011