November 9, 2017 / 1:19 PM / a year ago

Fast-growing Lufthansa surpasses 2016 passenger number by end-October

A Lufthansa Airbus A321-200 plane is seen at Tegel airport in Berlin, Germany, November 2, 2017. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt

BERLIN (Reuters) - Lufthansa (LHAG.DE) has already carried more passengers in the first 10 months of this year than it did for the whole of 2016, thanks to rapid growth at its Eurowings budget brand and the takeover of Brussels Airlines.

Ryanair (RYA.I) overtook Lufthansa Group as Europe’s largest airline by passenger numbers last year, but Lufthansa is slightly ahead so far this year.

Lufthansa last year carried 109.7 million passengers. By the end of October this year, it had carried 111 million passengers, it said on Thursday in a monthly traffic update.

In the first 10 months of 2017, Ryanair carried just over 110 million passengers.

Along with expansion thanks to Eurowings and Brussels Airlines, Lufthansa is also set to be a big beneficiary of the collapse of local rival Air Berlin.

Lufthansa is using a 747 jumbo jet during November for the short flight between Frankfurt and Berlin to meet additional demand on that popular route.

The German group, which also owns Austrian Airlines and Swiss, plans to take over large parts of Air Berlin and is awaiting EU approval for the deal, which would see its fleet increase by a further 81 planes.

Lufthansa also added that it saw positive pricing in October, the sixth month in a row that the measure has improved compared with last year.

Reporting by Victoria Bryan; Editing by Maria Sheahan

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