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Looks like all or nothing for Ryanair

But playing down isn't an absolute denial. The budget carrier has also hinted that its interest in control of Aer Lingus might rise again if the Irish government was to sell its stake in the former national flag carrier.

Separately, Ryanair has announced a 13 percent increase in passenger traffic for the year just gone. The airline carried 65.3 million passengers in 2009,.

The latest passenger numbers came in even as the no-frills carrier said it was "highly unlikely" it would make another attempt to buy Aer Lingus, at least as long as the Irish government held on to its 25 percent stake.

"There is no truth or basis to recent Irish media speculation that Ryanair is preparing a third bid for Aer Lingus," Ryanair said in a statement.

With regard to its own operations, Ryanair - which has hinted at plans to fly the Atlantic at some point in the future - increased passenger traffic figures in December by 12 percent to 4.9 million, with load factor increasing two percent to 82 percent compared to the same period in 2008. The load factor is the average number of seats filled on each aircraft.

Chief executive Michael O'Leary said Ryanair was on target to carry more than 66 million passengers for the current tax year, and said the company planned to significantly decrease capital expenditure.

"With the unsuccessful termination of our talks with Boeing for a 200 aircraft order in December, planned capital expenditure will now decline from

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