Ryanair has achieved an overall load factor of 97% for the month of July 2019. The Irish low-cost carrier transported a total of 14.8 million passengers across its group of low-cost airlines.
Air carriers often release statistics on how well they have performed. This can be monthly, quarterly, twice a year, yearly, or a mix of these. Ryanair chooses to release figures once per month on everything from load factors to CO2 emissions in an effort to be seen as a responsible carrier. In fact, it became the first airline in the European Union to start releasing monthly figures on CO2 emissions.
What is the load factor?
A load factor is a useful number when determining how well an airline is filling their seats. Effectively, it is the percentage of seats that are flown by an airline in a given time period that are filled by passengers. Let’s scale it down to one flight for simplicity.
Imagine that there are a total of 200 seats on a flight. The number of these seats that are occupied is the load factor for the flight. Say only 100 people board the flight, then the load factor is 50%. Make that 150 people and that becomes 75% and so on.
While the Ryanair group of airlines as a whole managed a 96% load factor, on its own Ryanair achieved 97%. This means that 97% of all of the tickets available on Ryanair flights during July were used by passengers.
Each Ryanair Boeing 737 aircraft seats 189 passengers. This means that, on average, each Ryanair aircraft carried 183 passengers, with just six seats remaining empty on each flight. In reality, some flights would have been flown fuller, and some emptier. However, in order to score such a high overall load factor, the percentage of flights with fewer passengers would have to be fairly low.
What does this mean?
In increasing the aircraft’s overall load factor, Ryanair is able to bring its overall CO2 emissions per passenger per kilometer down. This is as the CO2 per each flight is being shared out between more passengers, and the increase by adding an extra passenger isn’t huge.
Over the last ten years, Ryanair has been able to drastically cut its overall CO2 output per passenger kilometer. What once stood at 82 grams ten years ago now stands at 61 grams. However, this still isn’t good enough, as Ryanair wants to further cut it’s CO2 per passenger per kilometer to just 60 grams, half that of some of its full-fare competitors.
The airline hopes to achieve its goal of just 60 grams by maintaining its high load factor. However, the airline is also expecting 210 new Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, which it is now just referring to as “new Boeing 737 aircraft”. The airline mentions that these aircraft “will carry 4% more passengers but reduce fuel burn by 16% and cut noise emissions by 40%”.
What do you make of Ryanair’s impressive load factors? Let us know in the comments!