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British Airways owner IAG, Ryanair and Wizz Air carry more passengers in February

Ryanair failed to lift its load factor in February for the first time in almost a year while IAG's grew and Wizz Air's declined

Ryanair attracted more passengers with lower fares

Ryanair Holdings PLC (LON:RYA) reported a 5% increase in passenger numbers in February as it lured in more customers with lower fares.

The airline said traffic grew to 8.6mln customers last month from 8.2mln a year ago, sending shares up 2% to 15.5p in morning trade.

The load factor, a measure of how full its planes are, remained at 95%.

"Although this is the first time Ryanair has not increased its load factor since March 2017, and only the second time in the past four years, this is not a surprise with load factors nearing their practical maximum," Liberum said, leaving its rating at 'buy'.

READ: Ryanair warns on further staff disruptions, lower fares and Brexit uncertainty

Chief marketing officer, Kenny Jacobs said customers can “look forward to more low fares and an improved customer experience” in 2018 as it continues to roll out its so-called Always Getting Better programme.

Ryanair launched the AGB programme in 2014 after drawing criticism over its hard-line cabin allowance and penalties for printing out boarding passes. The company cut some of its fees, including a charge to check in at an airport desk rather than online, and relaxed its cabin allowance. It also improved its website and mobile app.

Wizz Air's traffic soars but load factor falls

Sector peer Wizz Air Holdings PLC (LON:WIZZ) saw passenger numbers in February jump 23.5% year-on-year to 2.1mln but the load factor fell 0.7 percentage points (pts) to 91.2%.

Revenue passenger kilometres grew 22.9% to 3.3mln and available seat kilometres increased 24.0% to 3.7mln.

The budget airline increased its seat capacity by 24.4% to 2.3mln as it expanded its route network and fleet.

It added four new routes to and from Romania and Poland and expanded its fleet at London Luton with a new Airbus A321 aircraft.

In February, the company signed a deal, valued in excess of US$17.2bn, for 146 new Airbus aircraft for delivery between 2021 and 2026.

READ: Wizz Air Holdings signs deal for 146 Airbus aircraft valued in excess of US$17.2bn

Shares dipped 0.9% to 3,500p.

IAG carries more passengers

British Airways owner International Consolidated Airlines Group PLC (LON:IAG) carried 7.1 million passengers in February, up 8.5% on the previous year.  

The company, which also owns Aer Lingus, Iberia and Vueling, said its load factor grew 1.7 pts to 79.1%.

Revenue passenger kilometres edged up 5.8% to 17.4mln while available seat kilometres climbed 3.55 to 21.8mln.

At British Airways, revenue passenger kilometres rose 1.85 to 10.5mln, the load factor increased 1.2 pts to 78% and the available seat kilometres gained 0.25 to 13.4mln.

Quick facts: Ryanair Holdings PLC

Price: 16.795 EUR

Market: LSE
Market Cap: €18.92 billion

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