Lower fares helped maintain high passenger load factors at Ryanair last month.

The Irish budget carrier maintained its load factor at 95%, the same level as last February but with increased passenger carryings.

Passenger numbers rose by 5% year-on-year to 8.6 million in the month.

The statistics do not include flight disruption caused by winter storm conditions which occurred after the end of February.

The figures for the month gave Ryanair a rolling annual total up by 9% to 130 million passengers.

Chief marketing officer, Kenny Jacobs, said: “Ryanair’s February traffic grew by 5% to 8.6 million customers, while our load factor remains strong at 95%, on the back of lower fares.

“Ryanair customers can look forward to more low fares and an improved customer experience in 2018 as we roll out more ‘Always Getting Better’ improvements.”

Meanwhile, Wizz Air carryings grew by 23.5% in February to 2.1 million with a load factor of 91.2%. This gave the Hungarian low-fare carrier an annual rolling total of 29.1 million passengers, up from 23.4 million a year earlier.