Ryanair is hoping to be carrying 110 million passengers across its European network on a yearly basis by 2019.
Last month, the airline said that in the rolling year to the end of March (the end of its financial year) passenger numbers increased 11% to 90.5 million people, prompting the company to slap a 10.5% growth target on passenger figures for the 12 months to the end of March 2016.
That target would see it carry at least 100 million people in the current fiscal year.
However, already that target looks set to be upgraded. Yesterday, Ryanair issued monthly traffic statistics for April, which showed a 16% year-on-year rise in passenger numbers to nine million, up from 7.8 million for the same month last year.
Load factor was also up 7% to 91%. That is a measurement of how many seats were filled, rather than purchased.
“This is another great performance by the airline, particularly given that Easter fell earlier this year and would have seen some benefits accrue to the last week of March 2015,” said Goodbody Stockbrokers’ Mark Simpson.
“While this is a slowdown in growth from the fourth quarter period, ending March, which saw [monthly year-on-year] passenger numbers up 30% and load factors improving to 87.3% on the back of capacity growth of 13.3%, April’s performance is already running well ahead of Ryanair’s forecast for [financial year] 2016 and suggests we may have to revise our passenger forecasts upwards,” he said.
Goodbody is likely to wait until after the airline issues its annual financial results, at the end of May, to make a judgment on passengers, but is eyeing up an overall beating of the 100 million full-year target, with a 9% first-half increase and an even stronger showing in the second half of the year likely.
Ryanair yesterday put its April traffic increase down to a mix of lower fares, stronger forward bookings and the continuing success of its ‘Always Getting Better’ customer improvement programme.