Ryanair flies more passengers than ever as Portugal reports tourism rebound

On the day that Ryanair announced the busiest month in its history, the Portuguese tourism minister has revealed the scale of the rebound in visitor numbers and spending.

In August, Ryanair carried 18.9 million passengers. The daily average was over 600,000. The monthly tally for Europe’s biggest budget airline is four million more than in the busiest pre-pandemic month, August 2019 – a rise of 27 per cent.

The numbers would have been even higher were it not for the failure of UK air-traffic control on 28 August, which led to the cancellation of over 350 flights – affecting 63,000 passengers.

The figures were announced as Portugal’s tourism minister, Nuno Fazenda, revealed the scale of the post-Covid rebound for his nation.

He told The Independent that in the first six months of the year, visitors numbers rose by 10 per cent compared with 2019 – with revenue from tourism rising by 40 per cent.

In July, Mr Fazenda said: “There was an increase of overnights, hotel guests and tourism revenues – which means the first seven months of 2023 are the best months of tourism ever in Portugal.”

The UK is the most important source of incoming visitors for Portugal. Sixty per cent of British arrivals remain on the Algarve, Portugal’s southern coast, with visits concentrated in summer.

The minister said new travel patterns were emerging, with UK visitors exploring other parts of Portugal and travelling off-season: “Another change in our tourism – not only that tourists are travelling all over the country, they are travelling more all over the year.”

Julia Lo Bue-Said, chief executive of the Advantage Travel Partnership, said: “Today’s news from Ryanair and Portugal’s minister of tourism further demonstrates the strength and resilience of the international travel industry, and I suspect this growth is consistent with what many of the world’s key travel markets are seeing this year.

“The global recovery of the sector, post pandemic, has been both rapid and robust and continues to demonstrate the significant importance that people place on travel.

“It also highlights the value of tourism as an economic driver for all destinations, and also UK-based businesses selling international travel, such as travel agents.”

Ryanair’s load factor – the proportion of seats filled – was 96 per cent in August. It remains the safest airline in the world in terms of the number of passengers flown without a fatal accident.

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