The Latest traffic statistics from Aer Lingus showed that the airline carried 891,000 passengers in August, which is a 10.7% increase on the same month last year.

For the year so far short-haul traffic has increased by 7.3% to 5.4 million, while long-haul passenger numbers increased 6.5% to 801,000 - compared to the first eight months of 2006.

However, overall in August the percentage of seats filled declined by 2.5 percentage points to 79.1% due to increased capacity and also the impact of the averted two day strike last month, Aer Lingus said.

CEO Dermot Mannion said: 'August passenger numbers demonstrate a strong performance in both long and short haul routes in a period when we have increased our capacity levels in both these sectors combined by 19%'.

Meanwhile, the resumption of face-to-face talks between Aer Lingus managment and pilots' representatives on the planned establishment of a new base in Belfast has been postponed until Monday.

 The talks, which began at Dublin Airport on Wednesday, had been scheduled to continue today.

Two weeks ago pilots called off a threatened strike to allow negotiations at the Labour Relations Commission to take place.

Aer Lingus is expected to indicate its intention to press ahead with recruitment of 100 staff for Belfast in time for the base  to be operational from the 10th December.