he combined consequences of global economic slowdown, an additional slowing of demand due to the conflict in Iraq and SARS have led to a reduction in the number of passengers especially in March 2003. In the reporting month of March, the Austrian Airlines Group carried a total of 612,000 passengers, 8.2 % down on the comparable month the preceding year. The reduction on scheduled services was 10 %, while the Group increased the number of passengers carried in its holiday and charter segment by 7.9 %. The average load factor for scheduled traffic fell by 7.1 percentage points to 64.0 %, producing an average passenger load factor (scheduled and holiday/charter flights) of 66.3 % overall.
Compared to the same period the previous year, the cumulative traffic statistics for the first quarter of 2003 (January to March inclusive) show that the fall in demand has caused a 0.1 % reduction in the total number of passengers carried, to 1.745 million passengers. 3.3 % fewer passengers were carried on scheduled services, while the charter/holiday flight segment generated increases of 30.9 %. Compared to the previous year, the consistent reductions in capacity implemented at the beginning of this year (5 % in January, 5 % in February and 6 % in March) produced an increase in available seat kilometers for scheduled traffic alone of 13.3 %, while the number of revenue passenger kilometers increased by almost the same figure, at 11.5 %. As a result, it was possible to avoid a strong reduction in the average load factor for scheduled traffic; there was a fall of 1.1 percentage points to 64.9 %.