The carriers that belong to the European Regions Airline Association (ERA) reported passenger growth of 9.1 percent for last year–well ahead of the 3.4-percent growth recorded in 2001. Revenue passenger kilometers grew at a rate of 9.3 percent versus 4.5 percent a year earlier. However, a greater than normal increase in the last quarter of last year due to the severe slump following 9/11 accounted for much of the gain.
European regional airlines reported a combined annual load factor of 59.3 percent for last year, peaking at 64.9 percent in September–the highest figure on record since ERA began reporting. Aircraft seating capacity also continued to grow, as carriers reported an average of 69 seats for scheduled operations, an increase of six seats. The growth of turbofan aircraft within the ERA fleet undoubtedly contributed to the increase. Turbofans now represent 53 percent of the ERA passenger fleet.