The month of August saw Ryanair carry more passengers than in any other month in its history, not only surpassing traffic in the same month last year, but also far exceeding pre-pandemic numbers.
The Dublin-based low-cost carrier released its traffic numbers for the month of August 2023 on 4 September, revealing that a total of 18.9 million passengers flew with the airline, an 11% increase compared to the 16.9 million passengers from August 2022 and a 27% increase compared to the 14.9 million passengers from August 2019. This is the fourth month in a row Ryanair beats its own record, having previously carried 18.7 million passengers in July and 17.4 million passengers in June.
Ryanair operated over 103,000 flights in August, the airline said in a statement. In the same release, the carrier also highlighted that it achieved the record performance despite severe disruptions caused by a system-wide malfunction of the UK’s National Air Traffic Service (NATS) on 28 August. Although the issue was identified and remedied in a few hours, it took several days for schedules to return to normal, with more than 2,000 flights to, from or simply passing over the UK cancelled in 3 days all over Europe. The NATS failure, which prompted a call from IATA for a reform of the passenger compensation system, forced Ryanair to cancel over 350 flights, affecting 63,000 passengers, according to the carrier.
The airline’s load factor remained at a consistent 96% through August and Ryanair is projecting to carry a total of 183.5 million passengers by March 2024, a 9% increase compared to the year ending March 2023. The projections were slimmed down from 185 million passengers earlier this year after continued delays from Boeing in delivering the ordered 737 MAX 8 aircraft.
Regardless of the delays, Ryanair placed a historic order with the manufacturer in May 2023, ordering 300 new Boeing 737 Max 10 jets for an estimated €36.3 billion. The new aircraft are bound for delivery between 2027 and 2033, the purchase agreement being the biggest in Ryanair’s history. While neither side revealed the actual terms of the deal, the order is estimated at €36.3 billion for the aircraft’s listed price, however, according to Reuters, discounts for this type of agreements can exceed 50%.
Despite the airline’s success over the past months, Ryanair has previously shown pessimism over how long the current high demand in the travel industry will last as passengers face growing pressure on their wallets. In a video published on the carrier’s website in July, CEO Michael O’Leary cited inflation and rising interest rates and warned they “might affect consumer spending in the second half of the year.”