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Ryanair and Wizz Air: Passenger numbers up despite higher cost of flying and Gaza war

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Ryanair and Wizz Air both reported a rise in passenger numbers in February, despite the ever-increasing cost of flying.

Ryanair carried 11.1m guests in February, up five per cent on a prior year total of 10.6m. Load factor, the proportion of seats filled, levelled out at 92 per cent.

Hungary-based Wizz Air said 4.39m passengers flew on its routes over the same period, a 15.8 per cent increase year-on-year and at a load factor of 90 per cent.

Both airlines continued to be affected by the conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Middle East. Ryanair said it was forced to cancel 800 flights last month, although this was the lowest figure since the violence began.

Wizz said its load factor had been impacted by “reallocated Israel capacity,” alongside aircraft groundings related to the issues with its Pratt and Whitney-produced GTF engines.

The rise in passenger numbers comes despite fears of a slowdown following last years’ post-Covid travel boom.

It also falls alongside a continued increase in air fares, which risen around 16 per cent since before the pandemic, according to figures released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Supply chain snarl-ups at both Boeing and its rival Airbus have meant airlines are struggling to meet operations targets amid a shortfall in jets.

The Boeing 737 Max-9 is under intense scrutiny after a section of one of the aircraft fell off on an Alaska Airlines flight in January, forcing hundreds of groundings worldwide.

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary warned last week it would be forced to hike fares up to 10 per cent over summer, due to late aircraft deliveries from Boeing.

Analysts at the Bank of America recently raised their fare forecast for Ryanair by 2 per cent for 2025 as a result of “capacity constraints in intra-Europe.”

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