Aer Lingus suffered a marginal decline in passenger carryings last month over October 2012, but third-quarter profits grew 4.4%.

Overall numbers were down by 0.5% to 957,000 year on year.

Short-haul passengers dropped by 2.2% to 857,000, while long-haul numbers rose by 16.3% to 100,000.

The Irish airline trimmed short-haul capacity by 4.3%  in the month but still saw the load factor drop by 2 percentage points to 75.4%.

Long-haul capacity was raised by almost 20%, resulting in a load factor down by 2.7 points to 80.3%.

The October figures came as the airline released a third-quarter operating profit up by 4.4% to €94.9 million, despite “challenging conditions”’

Chief executive Christoph Mueller said: “Good weather conditions and strong price competition have hurt our short-haul performance.

“However, long-haul revenue growth was impressive and the market has absorbed the extra capacity we added on the North Atlantic this summer.”

He warned: “We do not expect any improvement in the short-haul environment for the rest of 2013 which remains characterised by heavily discounted fare offerings across Europe.

“The 2013 outlook on long-haul remains positive with the exception of some weakness expected in November which was previously communicated.

“We maintain our current guidance for full year 2013 operating profit, before net exceptional items, to be around €60 million.”