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Aer Lingus, Air France-KLM surge, British Airways, Lufthansa gain, SAS dips

Aer Lingus surged (+8.6%), Air France-KLM had a strong day (+6.3%), British Airways jumped (+4.2%) and Lufthansa gained (+3.3%) yesterday in a very strong session for European airlines.

Air France-KLM stock vaulted upon the release of the carrier’s traffic results for Aug-2009. The carrier halted the deterioration in load factor, which actually increased by 1.1 ppts year-on-year to 84.3%, as traffic (RPKs) declined 2.9% year-on-year on a 4.2% capacity (ASKs) reduction. The carrier reportedly plans to introduce single-class passenger cabins, eliminating Business class on some routes, as part of a restructure of medium-haul operations.

European consolidation news drove other gains, with Iberia announcing it intends to reach a pre-agreement on its merger with British Airways by the end of Sep-2009. The carriers reportedly have two meetings planned during the month on merger talks, which commenced in Jun-2008. Shares in Iberia jumped 5.8% yesterday. BA rose 4.2%.

Aer Lingus has confirmed plans to cut 63 temporary cabin crew positions for its Winter 2009-10 schedule, including 55 staff in Dublin and eight in Cork, due to capacity cuts.

Elsewhere, shares in SAS dipped 1.7% yesterday upon the release of the carrier’s traffic results for Aug-2009. Group passenger numbers were down 15.7% in the month, while yield declined 3.2% year-on-year. Finnair meanwhile, reported a 9.2% drop in passenger numbers for Aug-2009, the carrier’s shares remained stable. See separate report on Nordic carriers Aug-2009 traffic.

Europe selected airlines daily share price movements (% change): 08-Sep-09