Ryanair has reported a drop in passenger numbers for March due to the timing of Easter.

The airline said its passenger numbers fell  by 200,000 to 5.2 million from 5.4 million the same time last year, a drop of 4%. 

Last year Easter was in March, while this year it falls in April. 

The carrier's load factor - how many seats are filled on each flight - rose by 1% to 80% last month.

Ryanair said that its passenger numbers for the year to March are up 3% to 81.7 million.

In a statement, the company said that forward bookings for the summer months continue to grow strongly.