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Ryanair Passenger Numbers Drop 8% as Carrier Grounds Planes

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Dec. 5 (Bloomberg) -- Ryanair Holdings Plc, Europe’s biggest discount carrier, said passenger numbers fell by 8 percent in November as the carrier introduced the first capacity cuts in its history.

Ryanair carried 4.68 million passengers last month compared with 5.06 million a year earlier, it said in a statement today. The Dublin-based airline has transported 76.7 million passengers this year. Its load factor, the proportion of seat filled, held steady at 80 percent in November.

Chief Executive Officer Michael O’Leary said in May that Ryanair would ground 80 of 300 planes for the winter season as higher fuel costs made parts of its network unprofitable. The airline’s strategy of luring passengers with discount fares has made it the region’s largest carrier by passenger numbers.

Ryanair was unchanged at 3.68 euros as of 1:37 p.m. in Dublin trading. The stock has fallen 2.5 percent this year, cutting the company’s market value to 5.38 billion euros ($7.23 billion). It is the best performing stock in Bloomberg’s six-company index of European airlines, which has declined 35 percent this year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Steve Rothwell in London at srothwell@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chad Thomas at cthomas16@bloomberg.net