Under-fire Ryanair sees half-year profits fall with a tough winter ahead

Dublin carrier, which operates more than 30 routes out of Liverpool, found itself dealing with a row over the weekend after a passenger was filmed racially abusing an elderly back woman. Tony McDonough reports

Ryanair, aircraft
Half-year profits have fallen 7% at budget airline Ryanair


Irish carrier Ryanair topped off a torrid 24 hours on Monday when it reported a 7% fall in half-year profits to 1.2bn euros.

The announcement of the profits fall, due to ongoing industrial action among pilots and cabin crew and higher fuel prices, came as the airline battled with a PR crisis after a video emerged of a male passenger racially abusing an elderly black woman on a flight from Barcelona.

Ryanair, which operates more than 30 routes out of Liverpool John Lennon Airport, said revenues in the six months to September 30 were up 8% to 4.43bn euros.

There was a big rise in ancillary revenues – 27% to 1.3bn euros. These are extras such as priority boarding and reserved seating and they help budget airlines to keep headline fares lower.

Passenger numbers grew 6% to 76.6m and average load factors (percentage of seats filled) came in at 96%. However, Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary warned of a tough winter ahead for airlines across Europe.

He said: “We have trimmed winter capacity by 1%, including base closures in Eindhoven and Bremen, in response to weaker fares and higher oil prices. As we look beyond this winter, we have announced new bases in Bordeaux, Marseille, London Southend and increased capacity in Luton. 

“With spot fuel reaching $85bbl, rising interest rates and the stronger US dollar, airline margins are under pressure and it is inevitable that more of the weaker, unhedged, European airlines will fold this winter. 

“At the same time, many larger airlines are closing bases and cutting routes to minimise winter losses.  We expect more failures this winter and we cannot rule out further capacity cuts or base closures in Ryanair if oil prices rise or air fares fall further.

“Over the medium term, this consolidation will create growth opportunities for Ryanair’s lowest fare/lowest cost model.”

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