Ryanair profits take off fuelled by summer holiday demand
Ryanair has cashed in on rising fares and a strong recovery in passenger numbers to report near-record profits.
The Irish low-cost carrier said it made a profit of €1.43bn (£1.24bn) in the 12 months to 31 March, compared with a €355m loss in the same period the year before. Its revenues more than doubled to €10.78bn from €4.8bn but its costs also increased, from €5.27bn to €9.2bn.
Ryanair said that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “badly impacted” flying in early 2022 but strong demand for air travel later in the year led to passenger numbers rising by 74 per cent, boosting its profits as fares rose by 10 per cent on pre-pandemic levels.
Europe’s largest airline by passenger numbers cautioned that demand might weaken as consumer spending becomes constrained. Next winter and the first quarter of 2024 could be much more challenging, it said.
Dublin-based Ryanair predicts that its passenger numbers will increase to 185 million from a record 168.6 million in the past financial year as newly ordered Boeing jets arrive.
It said it had gained market share in Italy, Poland and Ireland.
Ryanair says it will operate its largest-ever summer schedule which will involve it covering nearly 2,500 routes and 3,000 daily flights. It has said its long-term ambition is to carry 300 million passengers.
It expects its fuel bill to increase by more than €1bn because of higher oil prices. Staff costs will also rise by 73 per cent to €1.19bn because of the larger fleet.
Ryanair’s chief executive, Micahel O’Leary, said strong demand showed customers were treating travel as an essential and that fares would grow by a double-digit percentage. He was unsure if they would hit the 20 to 30 per cent range forecast by rivals.
“If traffic is growing by 10 per cent we aim to deliver that type of profit growth as well. It could be better than that if our competitors are correct,” Mr O’Leary added.