Ryanair passenger numbers soar again

Emma Haslett
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Over the rainbow: Ryanair passenger numbers have soared (Source: Getty)

It seems Ryanair is about to have a good day: the airline has said passenger numbers soared 20 per cent in December, as passengers went berserk for lower fares.

In an update this morning, Ryanair said it flew 9m customers last month, bringing its total for 2016 up to 117m, 15 per cent higher than the same period the year before.

Load factor – a measure of how packed planes are – rose to 94 per cent in December, up three percentage points from the same period last year.

Last month the airline set out plans to become the "Amazon of air travel", with the launch of a new package holidays arm.

As well as flights, Ryanair has partnered with Spain-based tour operator Logitravel and accommodation provider World2Meet to offer its customers accommodation and transfer packages.

It also launched Ryanair Car Hire and Ryanair Rooms last year – and insisted the enthusiasm with which both were embraced suggested customers were keen to go to the company for "services and products other than flights".

Today spokesman Kenny Jacobs put December's successes down to the airline's low prices – and its recent PR drive.

"Ryanair's December traffic grew... on the back of lower fares in December and the continuing success of our 'Always Getting Better' customer experience programme," he said.

At a conference in November, chief executive Michael O'Leary – who has announced plans to move Ryanair's base out of the UK after Brexit – criticised the government's "lunatic optimism" over exiting the EU.

"It’s like Dad’s Army going off to war here," he said.

"These guys have no idea where they're going for the next two years and the problem is that in the absence of any discussions with the Europeans on Brexit they're all talking to themselves."

Shares were up 2.75 per cent, at €14.56, at midday.

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