Monday, July 09, 2018

SpiceJet's load factor second highest globally

As one might expect, the low-cost carriers often have the highest load factors. But even there, load factor can plateau or even drop. Frontier Airlines, for example, grew its load factor from 73.5% in 2004 to an astounding 91.28% in 2013. Since then, however, load factor, though still robust, has dropped back to 86.36% in 2017. One reason may be increased competition, with major airlines now offering the dread 'basic economy' fare, beginning with Delta's 'experiment' in 2014.

So which airlines have the most packed planes? As of July 2017, the hands-down leader was Ireland's Ryanair.  In 2016, Ryanair's load factor was 93.1% The airline actually increased that in 2017, to a tightly crammed 94.7%. The airline has something of a 'cattle car' reputation, and its CEO, Michael O'Leary, has suggested such money-making (and publicity-grabbing) schemes as stand-up seating and charging to use the aircraft lavatory.

Nonetheless, Ryanair successfully packed in 130 million Millennials and other budget travelers in the 2017-2018 fiscal year. As Victoria Moores, European editor for Air Transport World, said of Ryanair, "If you look at their load factor, which is the percentage of the aircraft that is filled, they are filling 95% of every aircraft on average."

But other carriers challenged Ryanair for the passenger packing prize. Four other carriers boasted 90% or better load factors in 2017, led by India's Spicejet, which flew an average of 92.8% full. It was closely followed by Europe's easyJet, 92.4%, and WizzAir, 91%. Air Asia boasted a 90.9% 'occupancy rate.'
09/07/18 Michael Goldstein/Forbes