Ryanair's passenger figures soar as travellers ditchBA for budget rivals

BUDGET airline Ryanair carried 6.16m passengers in October, 15 per cent more than a year ago, while the average flight was just as full, it said yesterday.<br /><br />Its load factor &ndash; an indication of how full its planes are &ndash; was unchanged from a year ago at 85 per cent.<br /><br />Carriers around the world have been losing customers as holiday-goers and businesses cut back in the recession. But Ryanair has bucked the trend by offering bargain-basement flight deals.<br /><br />The news came a day after the carrier&rsquo;s chief executive Michael O&rsquo;Leary threatened to water down aggressive growth plans if he failed to negotiate a better deal with Boeing. <br /><br />It wants to buy up to 200 planes from the US company, but said it would rather return money to investors than buying jets at too high a price.<br /><br />O&rsquo;Leary said there was &ldquo;no point in continuing to grow rapidly in a declining yield environment where our main aircraft partner is unwilling to play its part in our cost reduction programme&rdquo;. <br /><br />As a major shareholder of Ryanair, with five per cent of the stock, O&rsquo;Leary stands to be one of the biggest beneficiaries if it does pay out dividends. <br /><br />Earlier in the week, the airline said six month pre-tax profits had risen to &euro;419.4m (&pound;376.2m), up from &euro;105.2m in the same period last year.