EasyJet managed to lure more passengers in the short-haul European travel segment by carrying 49.7 million passengers last year, a jump of 7.9 percent – which clearly helped it maintain its dominant position over rival British Airways.
In fact, latest figures suggest that EasyJet is extending its lead over BA in the UK – Europe travel segment. EasyJet ferried 2.7 times passengers in 2009 compared to 2.4 times in 2009 over BA in the short-haul segment. BA’s European operations actually fell by 5.7 percent and the carrier ferried 18.4 million fliers in 2010. EasyJet rose 4.2 percent yesterday, the stocks biggest gain in 3 months.
The proliferation of low cost carriers Like EasyJet and Ryanair in the short-haul and subsequent cut throat competition has seen BA shifting its focus on the more lucrative inter-continental routes.
Ruing BA’s shrinking market-share, Joe Gill – analyst with Bloxham Securities in Dublin said: “It’s not that long ago that British Airways had a good position in short-haul and was prepared to defend it”.
Indicating that the discount carriers will perform well in the short term, he added: “The discount carriers are continuing to trade well in a tough economic environment and passengers are still very price-sensitive”.
EasyJet and Ryanair continue to maintain their lead over BA, though their fleet expansion has moderated. EasyJet had announced acquisition of 15 Airbus A320s, showing the company’s effort to tap the more lucrative corporate traveler’s segment.
However, Bloxham’s Gill thinks the low cost carriers must not lose ground to competition either. “They mustn’t let their grip on costs slip as a result of pursuing business passengers,” said Gill adding “they still need to be focused on their cost performance”.
As per data release by BA for the last twelve months, its global passenger traffic fell by 5.5 percent to 32.3 million. However, given its extensive inter-continental network, BA is comfortably ahead of EasyJet and Ryanair in terms of total passengers ferried.