| 17°C Dublin


THE number of passengers travelling on Ryanair last month grew by 5pc to 4.6 million.

The annual traffic rose to 81.6m, up 3pc on the same period last year. In January 2013 the airline carried 4.3 million passengers.

Ryanair spokesman Robin Kiely said the airline's campaign for improved customer service helped boost numbers.

"Ryanair carried 4.6m customers in January, thanks to the success of our lower fares, our easier to use website and customer service improvements including allocated seats from last Saturday and use of personal electronic devices from today," he said.

"Further improvements will be rolled out over the coming months as Ryanair continues to lower prices and improve our industry leading customer service."

The rise in its traffic comes as rival Aer Lingus said its traffic in January was virtually unchanged at 572,000 passengers. Its long-haul passenger traffic rose 7.3pc to 59,000, while short-haul numbers were down 1pc at 513,000.

The airline had reduced capacity on its short-haul network by 2.7pc in January compared to January a year earlier, while trans-Atlantic capacity was 0.9pc higher. The carrier has just launched a year-round service between Shannon and Boston and will re-launch a service from Dublin to San Francisco as well as a new route to Toronto in coming weeks.

Aer Lingus said that its load factor, or percentage of seats filled, was 63.5pc on its short-haul services, up 0.8 percentage points, while on long-haul it was 71.7pc, up 3.5 percentage points.