Ryanair reverses losses but warns air travel market remains ‘fragile’

Ryanair, which has so far avoided many of the problems faced by other European airlines, reported a modest profit for the three months from April to June.

Europe’s biggest low-cost airline made a profit of €170m (£145m) and occupied 92 per cent of its seats.

In the corresponding quarter of the previous year, the loss was 273 million euros with a load factor of 73%.

But compared to the same period in 2019, profits are down 30%.

The airline said average fares in April, May and June had fallen due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the resulting consumer uncertainty, but that “accessories” – from the advance seat selection to baggage – currently amounted to over €22.50 (£19.20) per passenger.

July, August and September fares are “a low double-digit percentage” above pre-pandemic levels – in other words, more than 10% higher than in summer 2019.

Michael O’Leary, chief executive of Ryanair, said the decision to minimize job losses and keep crews active and “current” had been justified.

Many European airlines, airports and handling companies are struggling to fill jobs that have been cut during the pandemic.

“We have a full crew, even though we are operating at 115% of our pre-Covid capacity,” Mr O’Leary said.

“Our business, our schedules and our customers are being disrupted by an unprecedented ATC [air-traffic control] and airport processing delays, but we remain confident that we can operate close to 100% of our scheduled flights. »

British Airways and the UK’s biggest low-cost airline, easyJet, have canceled around 40,000 flights between them this summer, taking more than 7 million seats off the market.

The Ryanair CEO was cautious about the future, saying: “Although we remain hopeful that the high rate of vaccinations in Europe will allow the airline and tourism industry to fully recover and finally put Covid behind us , we cannot ignore the risk of new Covid variants in the fall of 2022.

“Our experience with Omicron last November and the invasion of Ukraine in February show how fragile the airline market remains.

“The strength of any recovery will be critically dependent on the absence of adverse or unexpected developments during the remainder of FY23. [the current financial year, which runs until the end of March 2023].

“Any guidance is subject to very rapid change in unexpected events that are well beyond our control during what remains a very strong but still fragile recovery.”

Allegra Dawes, senior analyst at Third Bridge, said: “The golden age of cheap air travel is over thanks to decade-long highs in oil prices and inflation. However, Ryanair’s fuel hedging policy means they are better placed to maintain price competitiveness and less under pressure to raise fares over the next 12 months.