Austrian buoyed by traffic growth

The Austrian Airlines Group has carried a total of 10.1 million passengers on scheduled and charter services from January to end-November. The good traffic result shows that the strong growth in the short- and medium-haul segment has compensated in full for the planned reduction in long-haul routes. Load factor increases in all segments confirm that the company has adopted the right course with its Focus East strategy, repositioning of long-haul and comprehensive service and quality offensive.

Short- and medium-haul route segment as driver of growth
With around 7.6 million scheduled passengers, the Austrian Airlines Group reported a solid increase of 8.4% in the short- and medium-haul segment in the period January to November 2007 compared to the same period in 2006. The expansion in capacity of 8.3% (measured in available seat kilometers or ASK) was balanced by disproportionately high growth in revenue passenger kilometers (RPK) of 11.0%. The passenger load factor stood at 68.0% as a result, an increase of 1.6 percentage points on the previous year’s figure.

Austrian reported another increase in its passenger numbers in the short- and medium-haul segment, with passenger growth in November rising to 9.3% compared to the previous year. Revenue passenger kilometers on these scheduled services (RPK) increased by a clear 12.1% compared to 2006, while scheduled capacity (ASK) expanded by 10.1%. The resultant passenger load factor stood at 65.0%, an increase of 1.2 percentage points on the comparable period in 2006.

Long-haul capacity successfully offset in the market
Around 1.2 million passengers were carried on long-haul scheduled routes from January to November 2007, 15.5% fewer passengers than in the same period in 2006. This planned fall was due to the targeted redimensioning of the long-haul segment that has now been completed. Despite the planned reduction in capacity of 27.1% (ASK), demand measured in revenue passenger kilometers (RPK) fell at the slower rate of 24.2%. This resulted in a significant improvement in the load factor in the long-haul segment, which rose by 3.2 percentage points to 82.5% compared to last year.

Long-haul route capacity (ASK) was selectively reduced by 34.7% in November, and more successfully offset in the market, with a reduction of just 31.6% in revenue passenger kilometers (RPK) compared to 2006. This produced a further improvement of 3.7 percentage points in the passenger load factor, which now stands at 82.3%.

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Scheduled traffic also grows with year-end
Overall, the Austrian Airlines Group carried more than 8.8 million passengers on scheduled services from January to end-November, an increase of 4.3% on the number carried in the comparison period in 2006. Taken cumulatively, capacity on scheduled services (ASK) was reduced on selected routes by 13.4% compared to 2006. The figure for revenue passenger kilometers on scheduled services (RPK) fell at the slower rate of 12.0%, however, below the comparison figure for the previous year. The passenger load factor for scheduled services increased by 1.2 percentage points on 2006 as a result, and now stands at 75.5%.

The Austrian Airlines Group welcomed around 746,800 passengers onto its scheduled flights in November 2007, generating a clear increase of 4.2% compared to 2006. While capacity on scheduled services (ASK) was reduced as planned by 16.9%, revenue passenger kilometers (RPK) fell at the slower rate of just 16.4%. The passenger load factor stood at 73.2% in November, a slight increase of 0.5% percentage points on the previous year’s figure.

Charter segment well-positioned with improved load factor
From January to November 2007 inclusive, the load factor for charter traffic grew by 1.6 percentage points compared to the same period the previous year to reach 79.2%. The load factor for November 2007 improved significantly compared to the figure for November 2006, rising by 4.6 percentage points to 75.1%.

The reduction in the number of passengers in this segment - as in previous months - was a result partly of structural effects (Slovak Airlines being included in the comparable figures for 2006), and partly of the targeted reduction in capacity implemented on medium- and long-haul routes in order to strengthen profitability. A total of four fewer charter aircraft have been used on charter services this year compared to 2006, with two deployed on scheduled routes and the other two originally in use at Slovak Airlines. Despite a difficult year, charter capacity was well managed and successfully offset in the market.
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