British Airways carried just 7.6% of its pre-pandemic passengers during the second quarter of 2021. The airline carried fewer than a million passengers from April to June, compared to tens of millions during the second quarter of 2019. Except for Iberia, all IAG airlines saw a similar percentage of passengers.
In the United States, passenger numbers appear to be booming as the aviation sector begins to heal. Unfortunately, a significant portion of Europe has quite a way to go still, with the United Kingdom remaining even further behind the continent as a whole. Thankfully, following a recent government policy change, British Airways should now be on the up and up.
Meager passenger numbers
In the second quarter of 2019, British Airways was preparing to welcome its first Airbus A350 and celebrate its centenary. The mood was high, and nobody at the airline could’ve guessed what was to come. Now, we’re well aware that the pandemic has had a significant impact, but just how much has it bitten British Airways?
According to the latest figures released today by IAG, British Airways carried just 967,000 passengers from April to June, including Simple Flying. Compared to the 12,643,000 passengers carried in 2019, passenger numbers have dropped 92.4%.
Of course, Brtish Airways significantly reduced its capacity to tie in with the demand, with ASKs falling 85.9% compared to 2019. The airline didn’t cut the capacity as much, as passenger numbers fell, though, with a load factor of 40.3% recorded for the quarter. 84.3% of British Airways seats were filled from April to June in 2019.
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The figures clearly show the impact of the UK government’s stringent travel requirements for much of the quarter. Spanish flag carrier Iberia saw much better passengers figures. The airline carried some 1,862,000 passengers for the quarter, down only 67.3% from 2019. Similarly, Vueling, another Spanish IAG carrier, saw passengers carried down by just 73.7%.
Things are set to get much better
While it may not come close to 2019 passenger levels, the third quarter of the year is set to be a much better one for British Airways. The UK has removed quarantine from all those vaccinated in the UK, US, and EU when traveling from most countries.
When the new rules were announced, British Airways saw a considerable increase in travel booked to all tiers of country. Even red list countries that still require a mandatory quarantine on return. The airline is putting a significant focus on its short-haul network this summer, offering more ASKs in August than the 2019 summer peak.
By Q4, British Airways could be operating at up to 73% capacity compared to 2019. Aer Lingus will have the lowest possible capacity at 69%, while the Spanish flag carrier will be able to operate up to 86% of its pre-pandemic capacity. Vueling will be able to fly 100% of its pre-pandemic capacity in Q4, should the demand exist.
What do you make of British Airways’ continuing low passenger numbers? Let us know what you think and why in the comments below!