London (AFP)

Budget carrier EasyJet said Friday it transported a record 74.5 million passengers last year thanks to low oil prices and full planes, but it slipped further behind industry leader Ryanair.

The 6.6 increase kept EasyJet in second place in Europe in terms of passengers carried behind low-cost rival Ryanair, but the Irish no-frills airline on Thursday reported a 15 percent gain 117 million passengers in 2016, also a record.

An EasyJet spokeswoman said the acquisition of new Airbus A320 aircraft helped it offer more destinations and attract more clients.

The airline kept the percentage of filled seats nearly steady at a high 91.5 percent, with low fuel prices allowing it to offer attractive fares.

However the drop in the value of the pound after Britain voted to leave the European Union has hit the airline as much of its costs are in dollars or euros.

Its heavy exposure to the uncertain British economy and weak pound saw investors shun the airline's shares, which fell 42 percent last year, a drop much worse than its rivals, according to Bloomberg.

The airline is also exploring obtaining EU operating certification to ensure smooth operations once Britain does leave the bloc.

EasyJet didn't make any forecasts for passenger numbers in 2017, but has said previously it expects a 9 percent increase in the number of seats offered during its 2017 fiscal year that ends in October.

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