Lufthansa outflies Ryanair in Europe's skies

10/01/2018 | 206 words

German airline giant Lufthansa said Wednesday it had carried 130 million passengers in 2017, nosing ahead of budget Irish carrier Ryanair to become Europe's largest airline by passenger numbers.

The German group -- which includes Lufthansa's own blue-and-yellow liveried aircraft, Austrian and Swiss Airlines, no-frills Eurowings and Brussels Airlines -- boasted around 19 percent year-on-year growth in bookings.

Meanwhile, Ryanair reported growth of around 10 percent to 129 million customers.

Ryanair has made a policy of needling Lufthansa, with pugnacious chief executive Michael O'Leary often using press conferences to call out by name his counterpart at the German group, Carsten Spohr.

Executives at Lufthansa were left fuming last year by the Irish carrier's arrival at their home base in financial capital Frankfurt, where airport operator Fraport agreed to charge the low-cost airline lower fees.

Britain's EasyJet is also on the German group's radar screen, after buying up parts of bankrupt Air Berlin with plans to operate more internal flights in the country.

Lufthansa has also gobbled up chunks of Air Berlin as part of a push to build up Eurowings -- conceived as its own low-cost bulwark against the discount carriers.

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