Budget airline Ryanair has reported quarterly profits soaring nearly four-fold thanks to demand over Easter and the coronation weekend, but flagged pressures on consumers from surging costs and mortgage rates.
The Irish airline posted profits after tax of 663 million (£573.6 million) for its first quarter, up from 170 million euros (£147.1 million) a year ago.
The figures come as airlines are battling to evacuate tourists from the Greek island of Rhodes due to wildfires amid a searing heatwave in southern Europe.
Ryanair’s chief financial officer Neil Sorahan reportedly said the group was still operating a “full schedule” of flights to the fire-ravaged island, but is not yet putting on additional flights.
Its first quarter figures showed Ryanair fares were 42% higher on average at 49 euros and passenger traffic grew 11% against weak comparisons a year earlier, when demand was impacted following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
But it said fare growth was starting to ease back, rising by a “low double-digit percentage” in its second quarter and said it may need to take action on fares to boost demand as consumers face cost pressures.
“We are conscious that consumers may require some fare stimulation to fill our 25% greater seat capacity this winter (compared to pre-Covid) following months of rising mortgage rates and consumer price inflation,” the group said.
It cut its passenger growth forecast for the full year to 183.5 million, up 9%, against previous guidance for 185 million due to delays of Boeing aircraft, but said it expects annual profits to be “modestly ahead” year on year.
Boss Michael O’Leary called for “urgent reform of Europe’s inefficient ATC (air traffic control) system” as airlines face a summer of disruption from strikes.
He wants the European Union to protect “overflights” during industrial action.
He said: “Over the past six months, French ATC alone has held 60 days of strikes, during which the French Government used minimum service laws to protect local/domestic flights while disproportionately cancelling overflights.
“We, and our customers, call on the European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, to protect the single market for air travel and minimise the impact of ATC strikes on EU citizens.”
Rival easyJet warned last week over a challenging summer for ATC strike disruption.