European airlines report 21.3% decline in traffic

NEW YORK -- Transatlantic passenger traffic for most European airlines was down 21.3% in April compared to the same month in 2001, the Brussels, Belgium-based Association of European Airlines reported, while overall traffic dipped 11.5%, the sharpest monthly drop this year.

The figures were distorted somewhat by the demise last November of Belgian flag carrier Sabena, which accounted for 5.7% of European traffic and 3.4% of North Atlantic flights in 2001 -- and whose passengers may have switched to non-AEA airlines, noted the 28-member group.

Meanwhile, for the first part of the year, the AEA recorded a 17.1% dip in North Atlantic flights -- compared to the four-month period from January to April in 2001 -- and a 9.6% drop in overall scheduled flights in that period by member European carriers.

Capacity reductions have outpaced dips in traffic slightly. For example, in the North Atlantic, capacity was down 22.7% for April and 22.3% overall since January -- resulting in a slight uptick in load factors, according to AEA data.

However, yields remain depressed on European routes and only marginally improved on the North Atlantic.

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