Despite numerous strikes and continuing social unrest, Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair recorded an 8% traffic growth in 2018. The airline flew 132.9m passenger, compared to 128.9m in 2017, it announced today.

The 2018 figure includes 0.3m passengers flying with LaudaMotion, the Austrian subsidiary of Ryanair formed last year in which it has a 75% stake. We have to wait until next week to see if Ryanair has retaken the top stop from Lufthansa Group, which flew 130m passengers in 2017.

Looking at the nine-month figures in its fiscal year 2019 (April-December), Ryanair weakest month so far was July with just +4%. This coincided with cabin and cockpit crew strikes across Europe, resulting in hundreds of canceled flights. Ryanair claimed it was able to operate most flights, but the July traffic tells a different story.

Still, in absolute numbers, the Summer months were strong, with Ryanair flying 13.1m passengers in July, 13.8m in August and 13.1m in both September and October. It’s been the first time passenger numbers cleared 13m and kept there for a while. The strongest year-on-year growth was in December at +12% to 10.3m passengers.

Load factor between April and December was on average 96.2%, up 0.1%.

Despite signing contracts with Irish, Spanish, German or Belgian unions, elsewhere Ryanair remains at loggerheads with its staff. For example, in The Netherlands, it closed its base at Eindhoven Airport and fired all staff positioned there despite a court ruling that staff should be kept employed (under Dutch law instead of Irish law).

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Richard Schuurman
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Active as journalist since 1987, starting with regional newspaper Zwolse Courant. Grand Prix reporter in 1997 at Dutch monthly Formule 1, general reporter Lelystad/Flevoland at De Stentor/Dagblad Flevoland, from 2002 until June 2021 radio/tv reporter/presentor with Omroep Flevoland.
Since mid-2016 freelance aviation journalist, since June 2021 fully dedicated to aviation. Reporter/editor AirInsight since December 2018. Contributor to Airliner World, Piloot & Vliegtuig. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.

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