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Tuesday, 11 June, 2002, 06:44 GMT 07:44 UK
Flyers flock to no-frills carriers
Easyjet aeroplane
Easyjet: Luring passengers from flag carriers
Budget airlines Easyjet and its merger partner Go have unveiled sharply higher passenger numbers, in a sign that the no-frills sector is still enjoying strong growth.

Easyjet on Tuesday said it carried 898,080 passengers in May, 43% more than in the same period last year.

The airline's load factor - the average number of occupied seats per flight as a proportion of the total number of seats available - fell to 82.1% from 83.6% in May last year.

Separately, former BA subsidiary Go said it carried just over 500,000 passengers in May, 89% more than it did one year earlier.

The increase in passenger numbers is good news for Easyjet, mid-way through a planned 374m takeover of Go.

Flying high

Easyjet and other no-frills carriers have been luring passengers away from flag carriers by offering cheap fares in the European short-haul market.

This tactic has insulated the budget airline sector from a sharp decline in passenger numbers linked to the 11 September attacks and last year's economic downturn.

On Monday, Easyjet's Dublin-based rival Ryanair posted a 40% increase in profits, to a record 172m euros (110m; $161m), during the last financial year.

The proposed tie-up between Easyjet and Go, which Easyjet shareholders are expected to approve at their annual meeting next week, could put Ryanair under added competitive pressure.

The Easyjet-Go combination will create Europe's biggest no-frills airline, knocking Ryanair off the number one spot.

See also:

16 May 02 | Business
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18 Apr 02 | Business
09 Apr 02 | Business
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