Germany’s Lufthansa reported a 1.8 per cent increase in 2016 passengers on Tuesday but it was not enough to stop Ryanair overtaking it as Europe’s largest airline in terms of the number of people it carried.

Lufthansa’s 109.7 million passengers last year fell short of the 117 million passengers reported by low-cost carrier Ryanair last week, a 15 percent increase on the previous year, as Ryanair pulled in passengers with low prices. Last week, Ryanair reported that it carried 9 million customers in December – that is 20% more than the same month in 2015. Its load factor rose by 3% to 94% – meaning that for every 100 available seats 94 were sold. However, Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr dampened speculation of takeover of troubled budget carrier Air Berlin, Germany’s second-largest airline, pointing to its inefficient cost structure. Lufthansa reached an agreement late last year to lease 33 planes from Air Berlin that will be operated by Eurowings.

However, Ryanair has set its sights on Germany as one of the countries in which it wants to expand and will in the summer start flying from Lufthansa’s home base of Frankfurt. Lufthansa remains the largest airline group in Europe in terms of revenue because it does more long-haul flying and has its own catering and aircraft maintenance units.