British Airways suffered a fall in passengers in May compared with last year despite increasing capacity.

The airline’s latest monthly figures suggest the high oil price and recession in the US are depressing demand. BA boss Willie Walsh said last week he would pull plans for expansion and ground aircraft this winter.

The carrier saw a 0.7% fall in traffic in May compared with 2007, against a 1.3% increase in capacity – producing a 1.5% fall in the proportion of seats sold.

Long-haul business class traffic remained ahead of last year, but BA described short-haul business class and long-haul economy sales as weak.

BA unveiled record annual profits for the year to March, but has warned of a substantial fall in profits this year.