Ryanair cuts losses and aims for major expansion

Low-cost airline Ryanair has reduced its losses as it recovers from the pandemic and says airports across Europe, including Liverpool, will benefit from a major five-year expansion drive. Tony McDonough reports

Ryanair
Passengers board a Ryanair plane at Liverpool John Lennon Airport

 

Ryanair says its expects annual losses to be as high as €200m despite seeing its first quarterly profit since before the pandemic.

In the six months to September 30 the Dublin-based low-cost airline slashed losses to €48m from €411m in the same period last year – the height of the COVID pandemic when planes were grounded across Europe for weeks at a time.

Following a badly disrupted Easter, Ryanair saw traffic rebound in May and June thanks to the successful rollout of the EU Digital Covid Certificates. At 39.1m, passenger numbers were 128% ahead of the 17.1m achieved in the same period last year but still 54% down compared to 2019.

Total revenues for the half year period were €2.15bn, up from €1.18bn in 2020. Its route development team has continued their work with airports across Europe and has negotiated lower airport costs, recovery incentives and the extension of many low-cost airport growth deals.

Ryanair’s growth plans over the next five years will create 5,000 new jobs for pilots, cabin crew and engineers.  It has invested €50m in an aviation skills training centre in Dublin and its plans to invest more than €100m in two more centres in mainland Europe.

In July, the carrier announced it was launching 10 new routes out of Liverpool John Lennon Airport taking it’s total number to more than 30. In an interview with LBN, the airline’s director of commercial, Jason McGuinness, said: “Liverpool is a very important base for us.”

However, he also warned that Liverpool could miss out on future expansion unless the UK Government scrapped Air Passenger Duty (APD). Last week Chancellor Rishi Sunak lowered APD for domestic flights but not for routes into Europe.

Mr McGuiness said: “There are currently four aircraft based at Liverpool. We employ 120 people directly here and support the jobs of a further 2,000 people. Next year I have 50 new aircraft to allocate and, because of APD, I am much more likely to allocate one in Italy than somewhere such as Liverpool.”

On Monday, Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary once again criticised the bailing out of state airline during the pandemic. He said: “The tsunami of State Aid from EU governments to their insolvent flag carriers will distort EU competition and prop up high cost, inefficient, flag carriers for many years.

“Ryanair was one of the very few airlines to use the COVID crisis to place significant aircraft orders, to expand our airport partnerships and to secure lower operating costs so that we can pass on even lower fares, post Covid, to our customers.

“Together with our airport partners, we are leading Europe’s traffic recovery and we plan to deliver accelerated growth in both traffic and jobs over the next five years.”

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