Ryanair: numbers up but profits down

4 Nov 2008 by Mark Caswell

Ryanair has announced a
19 percent increase in passenger numbers over the last six months, but profits have
nearly halved over the same period

The figures show a 47
percent fall in profits in the half year to September 30, caused largely by the
carrier’s fuel bills rising to €788.5m, more than
double the €392.7m figure for the same period in 2007.

However Ryanair’s CEO,
Michael O’Leary, called the increase in passenger numbers, “a testimony to the
strength of the Ryanair lowest fare model”. Total revenues also increased by 16
percent to £1.4bn.

O’Leary believes the budget
airline’s low fares and no fuel surcharge policies are responsible for its recent
success with passengers. 

Pointing out the most
recent casualties of the recession – Alitalia, Sterling and Zoom – O’Leary
predicted that many more European airlines would suffer the consequences of the
global crisis and may not survive the winter, while the “high charging mega
carriers” such as Air France, BA, and Lufthansa, would continue on.

“As more airlines go
bust, and the wave of European consolidation continues, the strongest survivors
will be those airlines – like Ryanair – who are well financed, have a strong
balance sheet, and the lowest cost base.”

The CEO said Ryanair
will continue to respond to the crisis with lower fares and price promotions,
with passenger numbers expected to increase further over winter as a result.

O’Leary said: “We
expect continuing bankruptcies and consolidations to create even more
opportunities for Ryanair to grow.”

Among these
opportunities is the launch of a new Edinburgh
base this week, which will introduce eleven new routes including Berlin, Stockholm and Krakow. By March 2009 Ryanair says it will own a fleet of
195 Boeing 737-800 and will have opened three new Italian bases.

O’Leary has also hinted
that the demise of airlines during the current tough economic climate might
allow him to pick up cheap aircraft for a proposed low-cost transatlantic
service, which would run separately from Ryanair. There has been much media
speculation about such a venture over the last week or so, although any firm
plans still appear to be some way off.

For more information

Report by Liat Clark

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