Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary today promised “digital acceleration and innovation” as Europe’s largest budget carrier reported soaring profits and passenger carryings.
Annual net profits rose by 43% to €1.2 billion in the year to March 31 with passenger numbers up by 18% year-on-year to 106.4 million and a load factor of 93%
The Irish airline saw revenue increase by 16% to €6.5 billion as the net margin rose by four percentage points to 19%.
But O’Leary admitted that yields on late Easter bookings were adversely impacted by over 500 flight cancellations following the Brussels terrorist attacks and repeated ATC strikes.
“In recent weeks Italian, Greek, Belgian and French ATC unions have also engaged in unjustified strikes which caused a further 200 plus cancellations,” he said.
“The current quarter’s yields will be negatively impacted by these cancellations, lower fares, the absence of Easter in April and sterling weakness in the run up to the Brexit referendum on June 23.”
O’Leary projected a “modest” further rise in net profits in the current financial year to as much as €1.4 billion, with carryings up by 9% to 116 million.
“This guidance remains heavily dependent on the strength of close-in summer bookings and next winter’s yields, the strength of sterling and the absence of any further external shocks or significant air traffic control strikes/cancellations,” he said.
The airline is 2% better booked for the peak summer than this time last year but at lower fares.
The carrier’s Ryanair Labs technology arm introduced a new dynamic website and mobile app last October as part of an on-going ‘Always Getting Better’ passenger initiative.
The first two years “were about fixing things that our customers disliked and improving our offering,” according to O’Leary.
The third year “will be about digital acceleration and innovation, particularly through Ryanair Labs,” he added.
“This year’s initiatives will include a new Leisure Plus service, improved Business Plus, a ‘One-Flick’ payment facility on our mobile app, auto check-in for ‘My Ryanair’ customers and lower checked bag fees.”
Ryanair is expected to take delivery of 52 new Boeing 737s over the next 12 months, which will grow our fleet to 380.
Seven new bases in Bucharest, Hamburg, Nuremberg, Prague, Sofia, Timisoara and Vilnius have been announced as part of the winter schedule.
O’Leary used today’s annual results report to reiterate his opposition to Brexit.
“One of Europe’s great success stories was airline deregulation in the late 1980s which allowed Ryanair to break up the high fare cartel of Europe’s flag carrier airlines, and has enabled us to transform air travel, tourism, economic growth and jobs all over Europe,” he said.
“Ryanair is actively campaigning for a ‘Remain’ vote in the referendum on June 23 next.
“If the UK leaves the EU then this, we believe, will damage economic growth and consumer confidence in the UK for the next two to three years as they begin to negotiate their exit from the EU and re-entry to the single market in very uncertain market conditions.”