The Ryanair Group has reported a 9% rise in passenger numbers for February, but warned that its March and April figures are likely to be lower due to the outbreak of the coronavirus.

Ryanair has cancelled around a quarter of its flights to and from Italy in the coming weeks, due to a fall in demand.

The airline said today that its passenger numbers rose to 10.5 million in February from 9.6 million the same time last year. 

It also reported a load factor of 96% for the month.

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"Since Ryanair has cancelled up to 25% of its Italian short haul programme for the three-week period from March 17 to April 8, traffic and load factor in the months of March and April is likely to be lower than normal due to the fall in bookings during that period in response to the Covid-19 virus outbreak in a number of European countries," the airline said today. 

Ryanair also said today that its Lauda airline saw its passenger numbers jump from 0.3 million to 0.5 million - an increase of 67%.

The airline's shares rose in Dublin trade this morning after recent heavy losses.