Budget carrier Ryanair said it became the first airline to fly more than 10 million international passengers in a month as its customer service overhaul continues to boost business.
The Irish no-frills carrier, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary, notched up a record 10.1 million customers in July, up 11 per cent from a year earlier.
It also carried its planes 95 per cent full, up from 91 per cent a year ago, marking its highest ever load factor.
Kenny Jacobs, chief marketing officer for Ryanair, said: “These record customer numbers and highest ever load factors are due to our lower fares, our stronger forward bookings and the continuing success of our ‘Always Getting Better’ customer experience programme.”
In a swipe at Irish rival Aer Lingus, which has been at the centre of a takeover saga, Ryanair claimed its monthly passenger traffic was more than Aer Lingus carried throughout the whole of 2014.
Ryanair has rolled out a raft of initiatives to win over fliers, including allocated seating, new seats with more leg room, improved in-flight meals, extra carry-on luggage and more business-friendly schedules.
It is also promising new aircraft interiors and updated uniforms for cabin crew, as well as a redesigned website, app and booking features such as ‘hold the fare’ under a second year of its customer programme.
Ryanair saw earnings soar 66 per cent to £606m in the year to the end of March as its improvements paid off, while it also attracted more business customers.
Profits in the first three months of its new financial year also rose strongly, up 25 per cent to £171m as passenger numbers leapt 16 per cent to 28 million in the period.
The group also offered good news for holidaymakers last month when it forecast falls in air fares thanks to lower fuel costs for airlines and industry-wide discounting.
Ryanair recently agreed to sell its 29.8 per cent stake in Aer Lingus, helping pave the way for the £908m takeover by British Airways owner International Airlines Group.
Ryanair was left as kingmaker in the deal after a £1bn offer was accepted by the Aer Lingus board and given the green light by the Irish government, owner of a quarter of the company, in May.
Michael O’Leary, chief executive of Ryanair, said: “We believe the IAG offer for Aer Lingus is a reasonable one in the current market and we plan to accept it, in the best interests of Ryanair shareholders. The price means that Ryanair will make a small profit on its investment in Aer Lingus over the past nine years.”
Ryanair had made a number of unsuccessful attempts to buy Aer Lingus, but had been ordered to cut its holding in the airline by UK competition authorities.