RYANAIR is celebrating five million passengers flying with the airline from Bournemouth Airport.

The budget airline has undergone major changes recently in order to make it more “customer friendly”.

It says it is pleased to reach the Bournemouth milestone and is looking forward to growing its customer base at the airport.

The airline, which began flying from Bournemouth to Dublin in 1996, currently has 16 spring and summer routes planned for this season and last year returned to Bournemouth Airport for a winter season after three years out.

Maria Macken, sales and marketing manager for Ryanair said: “We’re still about giving our passengers the lowest fares but we’re much more focused on our customers now.

“We’re committed to Bournemouth and work well with Manchester Airports Group, who owns the airport.”

Some of the changes the airline has introduced include a new-look website with a new homepage and streamlined booking system which means five clicks for customers instead of 17.

Passengers are also allowed to bring a second bag – a shopping bag or a laptop bag – in addition to the 10kilo of hand luggage they are allowed now.

The airline has also introduced allocated seating from February 1, which was one of the main issues raised by the public when their CEO Michael O’Leary held a question and answer session.

And to try and attract more business from corporate bookings, the airline has also introduced a group booking system.

“Michael O’Leary is very open about it – competitive price is not enough anymore,” Maria said.

“We still have the lowest fares and people are reacting really positively to the changes.”

Rynair made a loss of £28.8m in the final three months of last year despite rising passenger numbers. Lower fares and the weakness of sterling against the euro both hit revenue.

Last autumn, Mr O’Leary told the company’s AGM that the airline should try to eliminate things that unnecessarily annoyed passengers.

The changes included ending fines for passengers whose carry-on baggage was only slightly larger than the maximum allowed size and allowing a 24-hour “grace period” for customers to correct minor booking errors.

Under questioning by shareholders, he said: “I am very happy to take the blame or responsibility if we have a macho or abrupt culture. Some of that may well be my own personal character deformities.”

And he admitted that rival easyJet was basing its strategy on being nicer than Ryanair.