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Ryanair passenger numbers rise in August to 11.1 million

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Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Dublin
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DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ryanair on Thursday said it flew 11.1 million passengers in August, 75% of the number the budget airline carried in August 2019 before COVID-19 pandemic hammered the industry.

Chief Executive Michael O'Leary had told Reuters on Tuesday that the airline was on target to exceed its 10.5 million target for August this year.

The Irish airline, Europe's largest by passenger numbers, said the load factor for August was 82%, which means an average of 18% seats were not filled during the month.

O'Leary had said in his interview with Reuters that capacity should return to pre-pandemic levels in October, saying he expected numbers to be close to 90% in September.

But he said the airline was likely to fly with an average of 15%-20% empty seats on planes this winter compared with 7%-8% before the pandemic.

(Reporting by Graham Fahy; Editing by Edmund Blair)

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