Greece-based Aegean Airlines and subsidiary Olympic Air carried 2.1 million passengers in the first quarter, up 5% compared to 2.01 million the year-ago quarter.

International passenger traffic rose 17% year-over-year to 1.1 billion. Domestic traffic was down 6% to 992 million as the Star Alliance member adjusted demand with lower fares and reduced flights, which improved load factors on both domestic and international routes to 76.8%, up 7.5 points year-over-year.

“We have recorded improved load factors during the winter season with attractive fares, which give the chance of affordable trips on a wider network,” MD Dimitris Gerogiannis said in a statement.

“Local demand remains weak and, combined with the seasonality of Greek tourism, resulted in the underutilization of our fleet,” he said, adding this will continue to have a negative impact on financial results for the winter months. “Nevertheless, the evolution of load factors as well as pre-bookings for the summer season, which basically shape our financial performance, remains encouraging for the full year,” he said.   

Aegean Airlines reported a 2016 net profit of €32.2 million ($33.9 million), down 52.9% from €72.1 million in 2015. Gerogiannis said, “Weak demand in the second quarter of the year, combined with domestic tax increases in value-added tax on airline fares by 11%, had a negative impact on full-year results, despite strong performance in the third and seasonably most important quarter of the year.”

Kurt Hofmann