By Edward Thicknesse | cityam.com
Budget carrier Ryanair beat its passenger number targets for August as holidaymakers took advantage of looser travel restrictions to seek the European sunshine.
The Irish airline flew 11.1m passengers last month, more than the 10.5m it had previously predicted, and double the number it carried in June.
On Tuesday chief executive Michael O’Leary said that the carrier was on track to fly 100m passengers this year, with monthly numbers expected to hit 10.5m for each of the next three months.
In 2019, Ryanair flew a record 149m passengers, before the pandemic grounded planes and all but shut down air travel.
This morning Wizz Air also revealed that passenger numbers had jumped 50 per cent in August in another sign that travel is beginning to take off.
The UK’s stringent travel restrictions were eased at the end of July to allow double vaccinated people to travel to most European destinations and return without needing to quarantine.
Although this helped encourage people back onto flights, O’Leary said that the government should scrap all travel restrictions for fully vaccinated people, including testing requirements.
He also said that the UK should join the EU’s digital Covid “vaccine passport” in order to encourage more European passengers to visit the country over the winter period.
“Americans and Asians are not going to come to the UK this winter, so we need to encourage Europeans to do so instead.
“We have to make it easier [for them to come]. Pissing about with all these PCR tests… is nonsensical.”
Next summer Ryanair will take delivery of 60 new Boeing 737 aircraft, which O’Leary said would help the carrier snap up the spare capacity left behind by failed carriers like Flybe.
By 2025, the carrier is targeting flying 200m passengers a year.