TAP passengers down by 12.3 per cent in May

Portuguese national carrier TAP saw passenger numbers plummet by 12.3 per cent in May, losing 105,000 customers because of the economic crisis and competition from low cost airlines.

The performance of the struggling airline reflects not only an overall drop in passenger numbers worldwide due to the recession but is also losing ground to low cost carriers such as Ryanair and easyJet which in Portugal have seen passenger numbers climb by 16 and eight per cent respectively in the first five months of 2009.

According to statistics from the Portuguese airport authority ANA, Aeroportos de Portugal, the state-run carrier flew 3.51 million passengers between January and May, translating as a fall of 5.3 per cent on the same period in 2008.

Falling passenger numbers intensified in May, representing a drop of 12.3 per cent on the same month last year.

Falling demand has led TAP to cut the number and frequency of services and the cancellation of around 5,000 flights since the start of the year.

In a statement TAP said that falling demand had been caused by an “unfavourable economic climate” and added that European and United States routes had been “particularly hard hit”.

However according to the latest data from ANA, low cost carriers Ryanair and easyJet have seen their passenger numbers skyrocket this year, although TAP continues to corner the market in Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde and Brazil and remains the overall market leader in Portugal with a 41 per cent lion share of the local market.