SWISS reports substantial 2005 increase in annual seat load factor

SWISS achieved an annual seat load factor for 2005 of 78.1%, a substantial 3.2-percentage-point improvement on the 74.9% recorded for the previous year. The increase was due to higher annual seat load factors on both intercontinental services (up 2.7 percentage points to 84.0%) and European routes (up 5.1 percentage points to 65.9%). Total passenger volume for 2005 stood at around 9.6 million, a 4.1% increase on the previous year. Systemwide seat load factor for December 2005 amounted to 74.9%, a 1.4-percentage-point improvement on the prior-year period.

The modifications to the route network, the schedule enhancements effected and the changes made to the aircraft fleet structure all had a positive impact on SWISS’s seat load factors for 2005. The company’s flights posted an average seat load factor of 78.1% for the year, a 3.2-percentage-point improvement on the prior-year result. Around 9.6 million passengers travelled with SWISS in 2005, a 4.1% increase on the previous year. While the company offered 4.7% less capacity year-on-year in available seat kilometre (ASK) terms, total traffic volume in revenue passenger kilometre (RPK) terms declined by only 0.6% over the same period. Annual seat load factor improved accordingly. Seat load factor for December 2005 amounted to 74.9%, up 1.4 percentage points on the same month in 2004.

SWISS’s 2005 annual seat load factor on intercontinental services totalled 84.0%, 2.7 percentage points up on the previous year. While ASK capacity was down 6.8% from its prior-year-level, total RPK traffic volume declined by 3.6% – far less than the ASK reduction.

Intercontinental seat load factors showed positive trends for most of 2005. Slight declines were sustained with the start of the winter schedules in the fourth-quarter period, as a result of intensified competitive pressure on various routes. Seat load factor for December also slipped one percentage point to 80.8%. December Far East services saw a 1.1-percentage-point seat load factor improvement to 85.4%. North Atlantic services for the month generated a seat load factor of 82.4%, a 1.9-percentage-point decline on December 2004. Monthly seat load factor for African services sustained a 5.2-percentage-point decline to 72.2%. Flights to the Middle East posted a 2.2-percentage-point improvement in seat load factor for the month, which stood at 71.6%. December services to South America reported a seat load factor of 84.5%, 0.7 percentage points down on ther prior-year level.
Seat load factor on SWISS’s European services recorded a 5.1-percentage-point year-on-year increase for 2005 and stood at 65.9%. With ASK capacity virtually unchanged (0.1% down) from 2004, the company generated a substantial 8.3% increase in RPK traffic volume.

SWISS’s business drive in Europe also had a positive effect on seat load factor trends. While 8.2% fewer flights were operated than the previous year, total ASK capacity for 2005 was only 0.1% below its prior-year level. The use of larger-capacity aircraft and the corresponding reduction in unit costs per available seat kilometre provided SWISS with vital scope for responding to its intra-European competitors. These endeavours were reflected in seat load factor for December 2005, which, at 62.2%, was a 6.7-percentage-point improvement on the prior-year period.

SWISS’s cargo business continued to develop favourably overall in 2005, despite a tangible toughening of the competitive environment. Cargo load factor (by volume) remained stable at a high 86.5% (down 0.1 percentage points on 2004). The total cargo volume handled by Swiss WorldCargo amounted to around 1.14 billion cargo tonne-kilometres, an 0.5% improvement on the previous year.