Ryanair has announced a 12 per cent rise in profits for the three months from October to December 2017, but has warned about “continuing uncertainty” over Brexit.
Europe’s biggest budget airline flew six per cent more passengers than in the same quarter in 2016. The growth occurred even though Ryanair grounded 25 aircraft and cancelled thousands of flights as a result of what Michael O’Leary, the chief executive, called “our pilot rostering failure.”
In September the airline abruptly cancelled flights due to crewing problems, and reduced its flying programme for the winter.
Average fares in the third quarter fell by 4 per cent to €32 (£28). But profits increased to €106m (£94m), representing over £3 per passenger carried, at a time of year when many airlines struggle to make money.
Mr O’Leary described the 96 per cent load factor as “industry leading”. He said the decision to recognise unions “after 30 years of successfully dealing directly with our people” could add complexity to the business, and “may cause short-term disruptions and negative PR”.
Staff costs are expected to rise this year by €45m (£40) due to pay rises for pilots and improving crewing ratios, in what the airline calls “a tightening market for experienced pilots“.
But the chief executive said the move would not change the aim of raising annual passenger numbers from 129 million to 200 million by 2024.
Ryanair continues to express serious concern over Brexit, saying: “There remains a worrying risk of serious disruption to UK-EU flights from April 2019 unless a UK-EU bilateral (or transitional arrangement) is agreed in advance of September 2018.
“We, like other airlines, need clarity on this issue before we publish our summer 2019 schedules in mid-2018 and time is running out for the UK to develop and agree these solutions.
“We believe the UK government continues to under-estimate the likelihood of flight disruptions.”
Separately, Ryanair has announced flights to Amman and Aqaba in Jordan, though initially not from the UK.
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