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Ryanair goes out on a wing as it applies for a UK Air Operator's Certificate

Ryanair only has three UK domestic routes but it is worried it may not be able to continue running these after Britain exits the EU. The company also released December passenger statistics, as did Wizz Air
Ryanair aeroplane
In the whole of 2017, Ryanair carried 129mln customers, up 10% on 2016

Low-cost Irish airline Ryanair Holdings PLC (LON:RYA) has applied for a licence to operate domestic UK air routes.

The move is seen as a fall-back option in the event of a so-called “hard Brexit”.

READ: Ryanair faces higher labour costs after recognising pilot unions, analysts warn

The airline, which was in the news again today as a frustrated patient exited a grounded aeroplane at Malaga airport via the wing, said the licence may be required for it to continue operating its three UK routes after the UK has exited the European Union.

In a separate announcement, the airline revealed it saw a year-on-year improvement in its load factor – a measure of how full its aircraft were – in December.

The load factor edged up to 95% from 94% the year before, while traffic grew 3% to 9.3mln customers.

In the whole of 2017, the company carried 129mln customers, up 10% on 2016.

READ: Ryanair sees year-on-year passenger growth of 5.6% in November as load factor also improves

Another low-cost operator, Wizz Air Holdings PLC (LON:WIZZ), notched up even more impressive growth statistics, with passenger numbers rising 19.8% to 2.25mln in December from 1.88mln in December 2016; the load factor nudged up to 87.5% from 87.3%.

The operator, which serves Central and Eastern Europe, carried 28.3mln passengers in 2017, up 24.1% from 22.8mln in 2016. The 2017 load factor rose to 91.4% from 89.1% in 2016.

In December, the airline increased the size of its fleet to 88 with the delivery of a brand new Airbus A321ceo aircraft. It added three new routes from the UK and one from Latvia.

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