The low-cost carrier, Ryanair, announced on Thursday that it transported 139.2 million passengers in 2018, setting a new record despite being hit by strikes and flight cancellations.
This was an 8% increase on the 2017 tally of 129 million – its previous record – but not enough to unseat Lufthansa, the parent company of Brussels Airlines, from the top slot in Europe.
The Irish company, which achieved double-digit annualised passenger increases in the last four months of 2018, also indicated that the rate of occupancy of its planes for the year was 96%.
Ryanair achieved its record performance despite a tumultuous year, starting with a series of cancellations up to March, due to a serious problem with rostering its pilots that laid bare a deep social malaise within the company.
The carrier was then forced to agree to recognise trade unions representing its workers, which it had never done before, following a social movement by pilots and cabin staff that resulted in a series of strikes, especially in the second half of the year.
The results of Lufthansa, which took back the leadership in terms of passengers from Ryanair in 2017, will be known on 10 January.