Ryanair doubles passenger numbers as restrictions ease

The airline still recorded a loss but it was far better than a year ago; however the future remains uncertain due to high fuel costs and Covid.

John Besley
Monday 01 November 2021 08:32
Ryanair has seen passenger numbers improve as restrictions eased (Niall Carson/PA)
Ryanair has seen passenger numbers improve as restrictions eased (Niall Carson/PA)

Ryanair has revealed that the number of passengers flying with the airline in the six months to the end of September more than doubled compared with a year earlier as travel restrictions eased.

Bosses said 39.1 million passengers were flown during the period, compared with just 17.1 million previously.

The improvement was not enough to stop the company slumping to a loss of 48 million euros (£40.6 million) but it was significantly up from 411 million euros (£347 million) loss for the same period in 2020.

The airline said it had benefited from increases in both customers and revenue – which was up 83% – during the half-year as the travel industry rebounded from the pandemic.

Chief executive Michael O’Leary said: “While sectors and traffic more than doubled, operating costs increased by just 63% to 2.2 billion euros (£1.86 billion), driven primarily by lower variable costs such as aircraft, airport and handling, route charges and fuel.

“Lower costs, coupled with rising load factors, led to a marked reduction in cost per passenger (ex-fuel) to 38 euros (£32).

“We expect to see further improvements in costs as our new, lower-cost, more fuel-efficient aircraft deliver and EU countries (such as Ireland Spain and Italy) roll out Covid recovery incentive schemes.”

Mr O’Leary added that the airline has seen a surge in bookings for the mid-term and Christmas breaks, with the levels expected to remain high into next year.

But he warned that next year will remain challenging due to high fuel costs and “will be crucially dependent on the continued rollout of vaccines and no adverse Covid-19 developments”.

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary said he is considering delisting the airline from the London Stock Exchange (Jonathan Brady / PA)

The boss also revealed that the company is mulling a delisting from the London Stock Exchange (LSE) in the wake of Brexit.

“Trading on the London Stock Exchange as a percentage of overall trading volume in Ryanair’s ordinary shares has reduced materially during 2021,” Mr O’Leary said.

“The migration away from the LSE is consistent with a general trend for trading in shares of EU corporates post-Brexit and is, potentially, more acute for Ryanair as a result of the longstanding prohibition on non-EU citizens purchasing Ryanair’s ordinary shares being extended to UK nationals following Brexit.

“The board of Ryanair is now considering the merits of retaining the standard listing on the LSE. Ryanair has a primary listing on the regulated market of Euronext Dublin, which offers shareholders the highest standard of protection.”

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