Ryanair has announced that it is to retain five of its services at Shannon throughout the winter months and to significantly increase its services from Shannon to Stansted airport in London.

Services to Paris, Berlin, Fuertaventura, Krakow and Warsaw will continue for the winter season beginning in October.

Ryanair said it is also increasing the frequency of flights to Stansted airport in particular to attract more business capacity.

In all, Ryanair will operate ten routes this winter from Shannon, five more than last year.  The other routes operated by the airline across the winter schedule will be Gatwick, Lanzarote, Liverpool, Wroclaw and Stansted.  

The announcement has been welcomed by the board of Shannon airport as a significant move in bolstering the winter season and making the airport sustainable across the entire year.

Shannon Airport's chief executive Neil Pakey said the airport was already experiencing a significant upswing in summer passenger numbers thanks to the airline's nine new routes, which started at the beginning of April. 

"A major objective of ours after securing those new summer services was to bolster the winter season and this is a significant move in that regard," Mr Pakey added.

Earlier, Ryanair reported a 4% increase in passenger numbers for May.

The airline said it carried a total of 8.2 million passengers last month, up from 7.9 million the same time last year.

Its load factor - how many seats it fills on each flight - rose to 85% from 82% - ahead of the airline's expectations of a rise of 2%.