Tuesday 6 December 2016

Ryanair smashes 100 million passenger milestone, but which is the world's largest airline?

Load Factors

Published 07/01/2016 | 11:38

Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary. Photo: Mark Condren
Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary. Photo: Mark Condren
New Ryanair BOEING 737 MAX 200 aircraft

Ryanair today said that it had become the first airline to carry over 100 million international customers in a single year.

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Rolling annual traffic to December 2015 was up 17pc, the airline said, with a total of 101.4 million customers carried over the calender year.

The increase was due to the airline's 91pc load factor, expanding route network, low fuel prices and the success of its “Always Getting Better” customer experience programme, according to Chief Marketing Officer, Kenny Jacobs.

Spectacular as the figures are, however, they remain a long way off the annual traffic data reported by Delta Airlines this week.

Almost 179.4 million customers boarded Delta flights in 2015, according to the US carrier, making it the world's largest airline by passenger numbers.

Delta's traffic splits to 126.3 million domestic passengers and 83.3 million international passengers, however - which is how Ryanair claims its 'first'.

The world's second-largest carrier, Southwest Airlines, had yet to report its 2015 figures as we publish, but the airline carried 129.4 million passengers in 2014, according to figures from the International Air Traffic Association (IATA).

China Southern Airlines is expected to have broken the 100m passenger mark in 2015 too, having carried 100.6 million customers the previous year.

United and American Airlines could also clock 100 million - the airlines carried 90.4 and 87.8 million passengers respectively last year, according to IATA.

Meanwhile, easyJet - Ryanair's closest competitor in Europe - reported a 6.9pc increase in traffic during 2015, with 69.8 million passengers.

Last July, Ryanair announced that it had become the first airline in Europe to carry 10 million passengers in a single month.

The airline is set to re-establish a base at Belfast International Airport this March, with a three-times daily service to London Gatwick.

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