British Airways reported a 0.4% fall in passengers in July compared with the same month a year ago – the first time since February its traffic figures have been unaffected by strikes or volcanic ash.

BA passenger numbers in Europe were up 0.9% year on year in the month.

The airline had almost 2% fewer seats on sale than in July 2009, but its traffic measured in revenue passenger kilometres – the standard industry measure – was down 2.6%.

The big improvement was in premium traffic, which has been consistently down year on year since late 2008. This saw a 0.8% rise in July. Economy traffic was down 3.2%.

BA forecast overall volumes “are likely to be slightly lower than the peak levels seen last year, with a lower proportion of transfer traffic”.

However, the airline reported “strong yield performance”.