Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair has overtaken German powerhouse Lufthansa as Europe’s biggest airline by passenger numbers after the German carrier on Tuesday reported a meager 1.8 percent rise in the number of people it flew in 2016.
Lufthansa’s 109.7 million passengers last year fell short of the 117 million passengers reported by low-cost carrier Ryanair last week, a 15 percent increase on the previous year, as Ryanair pulled in passengers with low prices.
Lufthansa is expanding its Eurowings budget brand to try and regain market share lost in Europe and it is set to grow fast this year with deals to lease planes and crew from Air Berlin, plus take over Brussels Airlines.
However, Ryanair has set its sights on Germany as one of the countries in which it wants to expand and will in the summer start flying from Lufthansa’s home base of Frankfurt.
Lufthansa remains the largest airline group in Europe in terms of revenue because it does more long-haul flying and has its own catering and aircraft maintenance units.