Independent industry figures confirm that Ryanair carried more international passengers last year than any other airline in the world.
International Air Transport Association (IATA) figures show that the Irish airline carried 101.4 million international passengers last year, well ahead of its nearest pursuer, British carrier, EasyJet, which had 62.6 million customers.
Gulf carrier, Emirates, was in third with 51 million and German airline, Lufthansa, came fourth with just short of 47 million.
A number of US airlines, including Southwest, whose low-cost model Ryanair used an initial template, carried more passengers, but much of its business was domestic.
Dallas, Texas-based Southwest carried 119 million people last year. Much of its traffic was within the US, although it also serves destinations in Central and South America.
Ryanair spokesman Robin Kiely said that the airline expected to fly more than 117 million people in 2016.
Digital marketing boost
Meanwhile, it emerged that the airline’s website had more than 300 million visitors over the last year.
Mark Simpson, analyst with Dublin stockbrokers, Goodbody, said on Thursday that the airline's approach to digital marketing and sales has grown increasingly sophisticated.
The company launched Ryanair Labs a number of years ago to focus on boosting digital marketing and to turn its website into the travel industry's Amazon.
Mr Simpson claimed that the Irish company is now in a position to do this, as online travel agents are increasingly dominant in the European market, accounting for 25 per cent of all hotel bookings.
He said a number of small players, including HotelBooking and Expedia, dominate this market, forcing hotels to look for ways to increase their own distribution.
Mr Simpson, who was speaking following a conference with the airline that focused on its technology, said the company’s strategy is to build a “flow” of hotel bookings over the next three years.