Ryanair on track to break five million weekly bookings landmark for first time

Ryanair on track to break five million weekly bookings landmark for first time

Budget carrier’s boss Michael O’Leary says it is seeing no signs of a recession and strong demand is driving up fares

Ryanair has reported record sales this January and is on course to register five million bookings in a week for the first time, with the strong demand driving up fares.

Michael O’Leary, Ryanair group chief executive, announced “two weeks of record bookings” in the first fortnight of January and said: “Last weekend we took more than two million bookings for the first time. Our previous record was 1.6 million in early 2019 when we had a buy-one-get-one-free promotion.”

He noted: “Every day last week was a record day for bookings.

“Prior to last week our record week was 4.1 million bookings in 2019. Last week we took 4.95 million and this week we could do five million for the first time.

“That is not on the back of seat sales. There is very strong demand. People are worried about prices rising, particularly during the school holidays. Hotel prices are noticeably higher this year and people want to get their spring and summer holiday bookings in.”

O’Leary added: “UK outbound has rebounded very strongly. The strongest bookings last week were in the UK. There is a lot of ski. Easter is very strong. Summer is building strongly and fares are rising.

“We see no sign of a recession impact yet. There is lots of spending. We expect this to be a second year of fare increases, with a high single-digit increase for the second year running, and I’ve not seen that in my 30-year career.

“Our average fare went from €40 to €50 last year and will rise to €54-€55 this year. It could be more.”

He insisted: “We continue to capture market share from the competition. Most has come from easyJet and British Airways which have cut capacity in the UK.

“We’ve very strong load factors, we think because the competition is restraining capacity and driving up short-haul fares, particularly in Germany and Continental Europe.”

O’Leary argued: “We’ve very strong growth ahead of us so long as there is no adverse news on Covid or on Ukraine. We can’t add enough capacity.”

But he added a note of caution, saying: “It looked this good last year and then Putin invaded Ukraine. It’s a strong recovery but it’s still fragile.”