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Airlines post traffic rises

  British Airways, Ryanair, and easyJet all posted passenger growth for April, but warned that Easter had provided a short term boost and the industry remained in the quagmire.

BA flew 0.9% more passengers in April than the same month last year despite a 17.7% slump in business travel, but admitted it was selling tickets at lower prices to fill its planes.

The company said its load factor -- a measure of how well it fills its planes -- rose 2.6% to 78.1%. “We’re sacrificing yield (prices) in order to keep volume,” BA head of investor relations George Stinnes told reporters, adding that the airline had launched a 2-for-1 offer on business class tickets.

Low-cost carrier easyJet said earlier Wednesday that April traffic rose 6.3%. Easter fell in March last year, inflating the April year-on-year figures. It said bookings for the summer were about the same as last year, encouraging analysts, but remained cautious on the economy.

A spokesman for founder and biggest shareholder Stelios Haji-Ioannou said he still takes the view that easyJet ordered too many planes for current market conditions and should continue to postpone deliveries.

Ryanair posted a 12% jump in April passengers while its load factor increased to 82%. “The low cost airlines continue to produce materially better numbers than full carriers. They are holding up while business-to-business traffic like premium or cargo travel is down,” said Stephen Furlong, airlines analyst at Davy stockbrokers in Dublin.

British Airways shares were up 5.5% higher at 175 pence by 4:07 p.m., while easyJet was off 4% and Ryanair was up 4.4%. BA remains in merger talks with Spanish partner Iberia. (Reuters)