06 November 2023

Ryanair forecasts further jump in air fares as earnings leap higher

06 November 2023

Ryanair has cautioned over ongoing steep hikes in air fares as it posted a 59% jump in first-half earnings after record summer demand and higher prices offset rising fuel costs.

The budget airline said air fares surged by 24% on average to around 58 euros (£50) in its first half.

It warned that restrained air capacity across Europe and engine repair woes for some of its rivals is set to mean average fares will remain firmly in double digits this winter.

The Irish carrier is forecasting a “mid-teens percentage” rise in average fares over the final three months of 2023.

Rising prices, together with a marked recovery in demand for air travel over Easter and the summer, helped counter a 29% rise in first half fuel costs to help it post a 59% surge in after-tax profits, to 2.18 billion euros (£1.89 billion) for the six months to September 30.

The group said it expects full-year earnings to rise by up to 30%, forecasting after tax profits of between 1.85 billion euros (£1.6 billion) to 2.05 billion euros (£1.78 billion), up from 1.43 billion euros (£1.24 billion) in 2022-23.

It flew 11% more passengers at 105.4 million over its first half, with the group hailing its highest ever passenger numbers over the peak summer months.

But the half-year was marred by disruption from wildfires across Europe in searing heatwaves, air traffic control (ATC) strikes and a system failure across the UK over the August bank holiday that saw airports grind to a halt at one of the busiest weekends.

Michael O’Leary, chief executive of Ryanair, said the full-year out-turn would be held back by a steep increase in fuel cost, “making it unlikely that we’ll replicate last year’s bumper third quarter performance”.

However, the group said its forward bookings are “robust” heading into the Christmas season.

Mr O’Leary said the expected rise in full-year profits comes “despite uncertainty over Boeing deliveries, a significantly higher full year fuel bill (up around 1.1 billion euros on last year), very limited fourth quarter visibility and the risk of weaker consumer spending over coming months”.

He added the guidance “remains highly dependent on the absence of any unforeseen adverse events (for example such as Ukraine or Gaza) between now and the end of March 2024”.

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