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Lufthansa regains place as Europe's biggest airline from Ryanair


BERLIN/(Reuters) - Germany's Group has retaken the crown as Europe's largest by passenger numbers from after the Irish was forced to cut thousands of flights because of pilot rostering problems.

The group as a whole carried 130 million passengers last year, it said on Wednesday. The equivalent figure from was 129 million, meaning slips behind after overtaking it in 2016.

has grown rapidly, having taken over at the end of 2016 and aiming to grow its budget brand to become Europe's third largest

The group, which also includes Swiss and Austrian Airlines, has also benefited from the collapse of German rival Air in the latter part of 2017. Air Berlin, Germany's second largest carrier, ceased flying in October.

Ryanair, meanwhile, has curbed its growth plans after a pilot rostering issue left it without enough standby pilots to fly its planes, forcing it to cancel 20,000 flights.

reported a 5.6 percent rise in group passenger numbers to 98.7 million, helped by its low-cost carrier

IAG, the parent company of and Iberia, carried 104.8 million people in 2017, an increase of 4 percent.

was already the largest in terms of distance, or revenue passenger kilometres (RPK), as it operates flights over both long and short distances, while flies only short-haul routes using 737 single-aisle planes.

Most airlines use RPK as their main measure of traffic, but does not provide the figure in its monthly updates.

(Reporting by and Maria Sheahan; Editing by Keith Weir)

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, January 10 2018. 21:51 IST