Ryanair carried record numbers of passengers over the summer and says its budget-friendly airfares will attract even more customers as Europe moves into recession.
The low-cost carrier posted its highest-ever half-year profit on Monday, earning 1.37 billion euros ($1.36 billion) in the six months to September. This surpassed its previous record of 1.15 billion euros ($1.14 billion) in 2019.
It carried 95.1 million passengers during the period, up from 39.1 million a year ago. This is 11% more than the same period in 2019 before the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic.
Ryanair ( RYAAY ) now expects to carry 168 million passengers in the 12 months to March 2023, up 1.5 million from last year. forecast and 13% more than the year before the pandemic. Shares in the company rose 3.7% in Dublin.
Ryanair has emerged from the coronavirus pandemic stronger than ever, even as several of its competitors went bankrupt or needed government-backed bailouts. It was also able to avoid the staff shortages that hit many of its rivals over the summer, including budget airline EasyJet.
Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary said rivals’ cuts to fleets and passenger capacity had created “huge growth opportunities” for the Irish carrier, which had seen its share of market in the main European markets.
“Millions of passengers are switching to flying with Ryanair and we suspect that will continue,” O’Leary said. a video posted on the company’s website.
He said concerns about the impact of recession and inflation on Ryanair’s business were “exaggerated”.
“People don’t stop flying in recessions, but they become much more price sensitive… Ryanair grows stronger in a recession because we have a huge cost advantage over our competitors, that cost advantage is widening and people become more price sensitive. turn to us,” he added.
The strong earnings mean the company will reverse pandemic pay cuts for more than 90% of its pilots and cabin crew from next month, ahead of schedule. “These long-term pay agreements with the vast majority of our people have now delivered fully restored pay 28 months earlier than previously agreed,” O’Leary said.
While Ryanair has recovered from the pandemic faster than much of the aviation industry, its growth next year could be hampered by Boeing’s ( BA ) “continued inability to meet its delivery,” according to O’Leary.
The planemaker has pledged to deliver all 51 737 “Gamechanger” jets Ryanair has ordered by next summer, but O’Leary believes there is a growing risk of “slippage” with those deliveries.
Known for his candid manner, the head of the airline described Boeing’s management as “headless chickens” earlier this year in a scathing critique of plane delays.
Despite the good results, O’Leary said Ryanair’s recovery remains “fragile” and “prone to shocks” from new variants of Covid or the war in Ukraine.