Budget airline Ryanair said passenger traffic continued to increase in May, despite ongoing disruptions due to a series of strikes from air traffic controllers (ATC) in France, as it announced changes to its fees for checked-in bags.
The Irish carrier recorded a 12% year-on-year increase in traffic last month, when it carried 10.6 million passengers. The increase brought the total for the year to 108.5 million customers, a 16% improvement compared to the previous 12 months.
Ryanair added its load factor, a key gauge in the aviation industry as it measures the number of seats filled on an aircraft, increased by two percentage points to 94%. Chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs said the increase in passenger numbers came despite a series of ongoing strikes by French ATC, which forced the carrier to cancel 75 flights on Thursday (2 June).
The Dublin-based airline has called the European Commission to intervene after ATC unions warned the strikes will be coordinated to directly target the European Championships, which begin in France on Friday, 10 June.
"This latest strike action by the French ATC unions is a clear escalation of their attempts to cause as much disruption as possible, and not only will European consumers heading off in huge numbers on their summer holidays be affected, football fans from all over the continent face massive disruption as they get ready for the European Championships, which begin next week," Jacobs said.
"The tourism sectors in Italy and Spain are continuing to be hit hard by these strikes, with thousands of flights to both destinations cancelled in the past few weeks alone, meaning hotel beds lie empty and restaurants remain half-full due to tourists being unable to fly over France to get there."
Meanwhile, Ryanair has cut its checked-in bag fees for passengers. From 2 June, those travelling on domestic flights shorter than two hours will have their bag fees halved to £15 for a checked-in bag weighing 15kg. Carrying a checked-in bag weighing 20kg on a domestic flight under two hours will also be cheaper, with the price set to fall from £40 to £25.
Passengers on all other flights under three hours will have fees cut up to 17%, meaning the cost of a checked-in bag weighing 15kg will fall from £30 to £25, while a bag weighing 20kg will cost £35 instead of £40.