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Budget carrier easyJet shrugged off fears sparked by recent terror attacks and air traffic control strikes as passenger numbers jumped last month.

The Luton-based airline said it carried 6.9 million travellers in May, 5.7% more than a year ago, despite last month’s EgyptAir crash and French air traffic control strikes which contributed to 173 cancellations in the period.

However, the company said its load factor – a measure of how full its aircraft are – dipped slightly, by 0.1% to 91.5% compared with 12 months ago.

Last month easyJet posted half-year results which showed the low-cost airline had swung to a loss after recent terror attacks saw some passengers stay away and rivals stepped up the pace of competition.

It posted losses of £24 million for the six months to the end of March against profits of £7 million a year earlier, but said its bottom line was hit by a £33 million foreign exchange rate impact.

The company said sales suffered in the wake of November’s deadly attacks in Paris, which knocked 2.7% off revenues per seat in the first half, while the suspension of flights on routes to the popular Egyptian tourist destination of Sharm el-Sheikh following the Russian airliner crash in October reduced revenues by another 1.3%.

The group is also facing a summer price war as competition from rivals such as Ryanair hots up, with the sharp drops in the price of oil seeing a surge in low-cost travel as fares look set to fall.

Ryanair said in May that it plans to slash fares by an average of 7% this year as the industry struggles with overcapacity and fears of weaker demand caused by the recent spate of terror attacks.

Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary said: “If other airlines want to compete with us on price, then we will lower our prices again. If there is a fare war in Europe, then Ryanair will be the winner.

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