There were signs in July that the fall in demand for traffic seen in the first six months of 2003 - the result of multiple external factors - had begun to turn around and that growth is now set to return.
Although demand is increasing slowly, pressure on prices and yields remains undimished. Overall, the Austrian Airlines Group carried approximately 867,000 passengers in the reporting month of July, just 6.0 % fewer than in the same period last year. In June, the fall in the number of passengers carried compared to June 2002 was 9.5 %. The Group succeeded in raising its revenue passenger kilometers by 2.7 %, while available seat kilometers only increased by 1.3 %. The average load factor on scheduled services in July 2003 rose by 1.1 percentage points compared to twelve months ago, reaching 76.9 %.
Due to the slower demand in the first half-year, the cumulative traffic statistics for January to July 2003 report a 5.9 % reduction in the total number of passengers to approximately 4.71 million passengers carried. The average passenger load factor on scheduled services in the first seven months of 2003 was 67.7 %, 2.1 percentage points down on the figure for January-July 2002. Overall, the Austrian Airlines Group made 82,442 flights during this period, 4.7 % fewer than January to July 2002. Dr. Josef E. Burger, Chief Commercial Officer of the Austrian Airlines Group, made the following statement about the current trend: “In terms of passenger demand, June 2003 seems to have been the low point. Now that we have overcome the difficulties experienced in the past six months, demand should slowly return to normal. Like other network carriers, we are now starting to recover the losses in passenger demand seen in spring 2003.”