Air Berlin Lags Behind Ryanair, EasyJet After 2012 Traffic Drop

Air Berlin Plc, Europe’s third-biggest discount airline, said the passenger total fell 5.5 percent in 2012 as it cut routes to pare losses, widening the gap to market leaders Ryanair Holdings Plc and EasyJet Plc.

The Berlin-based company carried 33.3 million people last year, down from 35.3 million in 2011, as the number of available seats was reduced by 7.4 percent, it said today in a statement.

The decline widens the gap to European discount leader Ryanair, which boosted its passenger total 4 percent to 79.6 million, and EasyJet, the No. 2, which had a gain of 6.7 percent to 59.2 million. The capacity cut helped lift the load factor, a gauge of occupancy, by 1.6 points to 79.8 percent, though that’s still below Ryanair with 82 percent and EasyJet on 88.9 percent.

Air Berlin this week appointed Wolfgang Prock-Schauer, the former head of U.K. carrier BMI, to succeed Hartmut Mehdorn as chief executive officer as it seeks a return to profit following consecutive annual losses since 2008.

The carrier, Germany’s second-biggest after Deutsche Lufthansa AG, said the December passenger total fell 8.5 percent as capacity was cut 12 percent.

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