The combined effects of the global economic downturn, the sharp reduction in demand due to the war in Iraq and the rise of SARS brought about a particularly sharp fall in passenger numbers in April 2003. The Austrian Airlines Group carried a total of 638,581 passengers in the reporting month of April, 7.8 % fewer than the same month the previous year. There was a 12.8 % fall on scheduled services, while the number of passengers carried in the holiday and charter segment rose by 29.2 %. The average passenger load factor on scheduled services decreased by 6.9 percentage points to 62.7 %, while the average load factor overall (scheduled and holiday flights/charter) was 64.5 %.
Due to the reduction in the number of passengers carried with the lower passenger demand, the cumulative traffic statistics for the first four months fell by 2.3 % compared to the previous year to a total of 2.383 million passengers carried. On scheduled services, 5.9 % fewer passengers were carried, while the figure for the charter/holiday segment increased by 30.3 %. With the ongoing reductions in capacity made by the company since the beginning of 2003, available seat kilometers only increased by 11.6 % compared to the previous year, while the number of revenue passenger kilometers rose by 7.1 %. As a result, the company has been able to avoid a dramatic collapse in its average load factor on scheduled services in what has been an extremely difficult operating environment. The load factor finally fell by 2.7 percentage points to reach 64.2 %.