Ryanair expects to fly a record of more than three million passengers over the Christmas and new year period.

The total is forecast to be 100,000 up on the equivalent December 20-January 7 period a year ago.

Extra flights on ski routes to Grenoble, Salzburg and Turin have seen strong bookings this Christmas and new year, while winter breaks to Warsaw and Budapest are also popular.

Ryanair will operate flights up to 3.30pm on Christmas Eve, resuming flights at 10am on Boxing Day.

A spokesman said: “While many passengers have booked Ryanair’s low fares to return home for Christmas, we have also seen record demand for low fare winter sun and ski routes, as passengers look for sun or snow this Christmas and New Year, as well as winter breaks to the likes of Warsaw and Budapest.”

The carrier released 100,000 seats at midnight starting at £8 across its European network. The discounted fares apply to travel on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesday and Thursdays in January.

The rates cover more than 1,000 of Ryanair’s European routes but must be booked by midnight on Thursday via the airline’s website.