Ryanair continues to break pre-COVID passenger records

While much of the European aviation industry faces staff shortages, strike threats and general chaos, Ryanair shows that this is not the case for everyone. In July, Ryanair carried 16.8 million passengers, beating its pre-COVID record of 14.9 by more than 25% set in August 2019.

As a stranger to aviation, it would be easy to think that nothing went as planned in the aviation industry this summer. Some airlines, like Lufthansa, have been forced to cancel almost all flights at some point. Although this is particularly the case for well-established national carriers, it does not apply to the entire industry.


Another record month for Ryanair

Ryanair passenger numbers have increased month on month since seven million passengers were carried in January. Since March, this number of passengers has been higher than the corresponding month in 2019. This shows that Ryanair’s traffic has fully recovered, and even more.

Ryanair has set its third consecutive monthly record for passenger numbers. Chart: single flight

However, it gets even more interesting. Ryanair’s passenger count fell to just 40,000 in April 2020. Before that, the highest number of passengers the carrier had ever carried in a month was 14.9 million in August 2019. Ryanair beat that figure by May, June and July of this year, taking 15.4, 15.9, and 16.8 million passengers, respectively. In previous years, August has been Ryanair’s busiest month, suggesting it could climb a little higher still.

“Gain market shares”

Speaking exclusively to Simple Flying last week (before the latest figures were released), Dara Brady, Ryanair’s Chief Marketing and Digital Officer, remarked that Ryanair had been the best performing airline in Europe this summer and maybe even in the world. Brady said,

“There are many reasons for this. We did not cut thousands of staff during the pandemic, we agreed to pay reduction agreements with our staff so that we did not have to lay off people. We negotiated a wage restoration deals with most of our employees retained, meaning we were able to continue the ramp-up and recovery.

Ryanair’s fleet has grown significantly since the start of the pandemic. Photo: Getty Images

“We are at 115% of our 2019 [passenger] number, so we are 15% bigger in terms of passengers this summer… We are by far the biggest growing airline, we are increasing our market share in Europe. People flock because we are much more reliable than [other airlines]… We are breaking records here every day.”

Part of Ryanair’s secret is that it avoids large, congested hub airports, opting instead for smaller airports that can be slightly further afield with a point-to-point model. This means that while London Heathrow, Frankfurt Airport and others have all introduced capacity caps, London Stansted and Hahn have not followed suit.

Some of the growth has also been possible due to recent fleet growth. Since last summer, Ryanair has taken delivery of 73 Boeing 737 MAX 8-200s, according to data from ch-aviation.com. Not only does more planes mean more seats, but each plane also has more seats than an older Boeing 737-800.

What do you think of Ryanair’s record number of passengers? Let us know what you think and why in the comments below!

  • Ryanair Boeing 737

    IATA/ICAO code:

    Airline type:
    low cost carrier

    Dublin Airport, London Stansted Airport, Milan Bergamo Airport

    Year of foundation:

    Air group:
    Ryanair Group

    Eddie Wilson


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