Budget carrier easyJet has reported higher passenger traffic in April but load factor dipped year-on-year.
The airline reported 5.25 million bookings for the month, a 2.5% increase from the comparable period in the previous year. However, load factor or the number of seats it filled on each flight was down by 2.6% to 86.7%.
EasyJet is aiming for a 3-5% capacity growth, annually, over the next 10 years and could get into expansion mode if and when it obtains shareholder approval to purchase 200 aircraft, allowing it to replace its ageing fleet of Airbus aircraft. The airline currently operates 214 aircraft.
While six large institutional investors are ready to back the expansion drive, the company's founder and largest shareholder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou seems reluctant to do so, according to a Financial Times report. The easyJet management is still undecided on whether to buy aircraft from Europe's Airbus or US-based Boeing.
EasyJet reported a pre-tax profit of £317m for 2011-12, up 28% over the previous year, thanks to the gaining popularity of budget travel.
Spain is home to the highest number of passengers flying budget carriers in Europe. The UK, easyJet's home turf and the location of low-cost rival Ryanair's largest base, takes the second spot.
Separately, Ryanair reported a 2% rise in passenger traffic in April, year-on-year. The airline flew 7.4 million passengers during the month as compared to 7.2 million a year ago. Load factor remained steady at 81%, the budget carrier said.