DUBLIN, June 8 (Reuters) – Irish airline Aer Lingus (AERL.I) carried fewer passengers in May year-on-year after a volcanic ash cloud disrupted flights again.
Aer Lingus, which has been cutting costs to survive against former suitor Ryanair (RYA.I), carried 876,000 passengers, down 9.9 percent on May 2009 however its load factor — a measure of how well it fills planes — rose by 5.6 percentage points to 79.3 percent.
The spread of ash from an erupting volcano in Iceland grounded much of European air traffic for nearly a week in April. It also periodically forced the short-term closure of parts of airspace across Europe in May.
As a consequence of the disruptions caused by the ash clouds, Aer Lingus said there there were 11 days in May when it did not operate all of its scheduled flights.
The former state carrier has said that the closures would cut earnings by about 20 million euros ($24 million). [ID:nLDE64304U]
Ryanair said last week May booked passenger numbers rose 17 percent year on year to 6.44 million, before accounting for ash cloud closures. [ID:nWLA5565] (Reporting by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Mike Nesbit) ($1=.8375 euros)