Christmas travel boom boosts Ryanair’s passenger numbers to 11.5m

Figures are almost 3% ahead of airline’s previous record and 21% ahead of last December

Ryanair flew a total of 11.5 million passengers last month, an increase of almost 3 per cent on its previous December record as Christmas traffic volumes rebounded sharply compared with the first two years of the pandemic.

The airline, which expects to fly 166.5 million passengers in its current fiscal year to the end of March, operated over 65,000 flights in December, it said on Wednesday.

Passenger volumes were 21 per cent ahead of last year and 11 per cent ahead of December when Ryanair carried just 1.5 million customers due to pandemic-related restrictions on travel.

Last month’s passenger traffic levels were also some 2.6 per cent ahead of December 2019 when 11.2 million customers travelled with the airline.


The airline also said its load factor – the number many seats it fills on each flight – rose to 92 per cent from 81 per cent.

In the run-up to Christmas, the airline heavily promoted the sale of its gift cards suggesting they could be used as a “last minute miracle” and would make “the perfect gifts this Christmas”.

However, Ryanair has been criticised in recent weeks after the airline failed to send the vouchers to some customers before December 25th despite taking the money from their accounts.

Ryanair Holdings predicted in November that it could earn between €1 billion and €1.2 billion profit in its current financial year, which ends on March 31st 2023, if Covid or geopolitics cause no further shocks.

The Irish airline giant reported a record €1.37 billion profit for the six months to September 30th as soaring passenger numbers drove recovery from pandemic disruption.

Ian Curran

Ian Curran

Ian Curran is a Business reporter with The Irish Times