Increasing traffic eases pressure at BA

Shares in British Airways have rocketed this morning, as the British flag-carrier reported a sharp rise in passenger numbers.

Traffic, measured in revenue passenger kilometres, or the number of fare-paying passengers multiplied by the distances they flew, rose by 1.3 per cent in September 2010 when compared to a year ago.

The rise saw shares jump six per cent to 265 pence per share, the highest mark since 2008.

Investors also took note of a 4.3 per cent increase in BA’s profitable first and business class traffic, which make up about 13 per cent of all passengers but more than 40 per cent of revenues.

Recovery in the airline industry began in the final quarter of 2009, with the 2010 monthly figures comparing to a weak 2009, as the global economy struggled to recovery from the recession.

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Developments

It has been a busy period for British Airways as it seeks to complete its merger with Iberia later this year.

The Spanish flag-carrier has accepted pension proposals from BA, with the full board of International Consolidated Airlines Group – the new holding company created by the merger – also agreed.

British Airways, American Airlines and Iberia also signed a joint business agreement which will allow the three carriers to cooperate on flights across the Atlantic.

easyJet

In a – rare – day of positive news for the aviation sector, easyJet also released strong results.

The low-cost carrier revealed passenger numbers for September were up eight per cent compared to the same month last year.

Following strong summer trading, the airline also confirmed it expected full year profits to be slightly ahead of the £150 million it had previously forecast.

The figure of £150m was already at the top end of the airline’s £100m to £150m guidance, with shares climbing 36.6p to 423.5p, on FTSE 250 index as a result.

easyJet also said the disruption caused by the volcanic ash cloud following the eruption of Eyjafjalla in Iceland earlier this year would be £5m less than the £65m it expected in July.

Newly appointed chief executive, Carolyn McCall, said: “This robust financial performance in a tough trading environment is a tribute to easyJet’s unique blend of the lowest prices to the most convenient airports.

“The significant disruption caused to millions of passengers across Europe, however, demonstrates the urgent need for European governments and the European Commission to modernise Europe’s outdated system of air traffic control providers and to end the ongoing strike action.”