LONDON: Dublin-headquartered budget airline Ryanair has overtaken British Airways in the total number of passengers carried in August. The airline reported a passenger growth of 27 per cent for the month to 3.26 million passengers from 2.57 million a year earlier. It claimed it now carries more passengers in Europe than British Airways does across its entire worldwide network.
Ryanair operates 250 routes across 21 countries.
British Airways had said earlier that it had a passenger load of 3.1 million in August, a fall of 3.9 per cent compared with figures for August last year. The airline’s performance has been hampered by a strike by 1,000 employees at London’s Heathrow Airport in support of fellow workers at the Gate Gourmet catering contractor. It had to cancel some 700 flights and the business class travel was the most affected segment.
British Airways is ranked third in Europe after Air France-KLM Group and Deutsche Lufthansa AG in terms of passenger traffic.
Said Ryanair’s chief executive Michael OLeary, “It’s official — Ryanair has today become the world’s favourite airline!” He said the airline’s passenger numbers is expected to grow 27 per cent in the year through March to 35 million travellers. It is launching its 14th European base at Pisa, Italy and may announce a new base each in September and October.
O’Leary said Ryanair’s decision not to impose a fuel surcharge had helped it to have more passengers.
A spokesperson for British Airways, however, disputed Ryanair’s claims saying the no-frills airline includes so called “no shows” in its figures (accounting for nearly 8 per cent of passengers).
“We carry our passengers much further than Ryanair does and, if you measure it in revenue passenger kilometers, we are a considerably larger airline,” he said.