Aer Lingus announced a strong set of figures driven by an increase in the number of long-haul passengers using the airline.
The total flown passenger numbers, including Aer Lingus Regional operations, increased by 7.2% to 734,000 in Dec 2012 compared to the same month the previous year.
Stripping out Aer Lingus Regional figures, the mainline passengers increased by 4.5% from November to December but only increased by 1.5% from Dec 2011.
Aer Lingus long-haul flights increased by 13.4% month-on-month and by just less than 10% year on year.
Meanwhile, Ryanair said passenger numbers grew 2% year-on-year in December, as it carried 4.8m passengers.
Over the course of 2012 Ryanair carried 79.6m passengers, up 4% on the previous year.
Ryanair’s load factor — the percentage of seats filled — was 81% in December compared to 79% in the same month a year earlier.
“Ryanair enjoyed another record-breaking year in 2012 with almost 80m passengers choosing one of our ultra-low fares between Jan and Dec 2012,” a spokesperson for the airline said.
Europe’s second largest low-cost airline, easyJet, closed the gap on Ryanair, adding 3.7m passengers last year to take the total to 59.2m.
EasyJet’s passenger tally increased 6.7% in the 12 months, outstripping the growth of 4% at Ryanair, which added 3.2m for the total of 79.6m passengers — which was still 20.4m more than its English rival.
Davy stockbroker aviation analyst Stephen Furlong described the report as impressive.
“Another strong set of traffic numbers, notably from easyJet,” Mr Furlong said.
Air France-KLM, Europe’s biggest airline, is planning to introduce a discount fare on short-haul routes from France, starting at €49, including tax, in an attempt to take on the low-cost operators.