<p>Blue sky thinking? Ryanair aircraft at Bristol airport</p>

Blue sky thinking? Ryanair aircraft at Bristol airport

Ryanair summer loss shrinks to £40m – but passenger numbers less than half of pre-pandemic levels

‘Consumer confidence was undermined by the UK government’s confusing and inconsistent traffic light system,’ says CEO Michael O'Leary

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Monday 01 November 2021 07:49

Europe’s biggest budget airline cut its losses between April and September 2021 to just €48m (£40.7m), compared with nine times as much a year earlier.

But the loss, which works out at £224,000 per day, is in stark contrast to the same figure two years earlier – when daily profits averaged £5.35m.

Ryanair flew 39.1 million passengers during the six-month summer spell, 55 per cent fewer than in 2019.

The load factor – the percentage of seats filled – average 79 per cent over the summer, compared with 96 per cent two years ago.

Average fares fell by almost one-third to €33 (£28), but “ancillaries” including seat selection and baggage charges averaged a further €22.50 (£19) per person.

Announcing the results, the chief executive, Michael O’Leary, said: “Consumer confidence was undermined until early October by the UK government’s confusing and inconsistent traffic light system.

“In recent weeks, we have seen a surge in bookings for the October mid-term and Christmas breaks and we expect this peak buoyancy to continue into Easter and summer 2022.”

He also attacked governments of other nations, saying: “The tsunami of state aid from EU governments to their insolvent flag carriers – Alitalia, Air France/KLM, Iberia, LOT, Lufthansa, SAS, TAP and others – will distort EU competition and prop up high cost, inefficient, flag carriers for many years.”

As the Glasgow climate summit got under way, Mr O’Leary claimed: “Every passenger that switches to Ryanair from legacy airlines reduces their CO₂ emissions by up to 50 per cent per flight.”

He said the Boeing 737 Max, for which Ryanair is the biggest customer in Europe, offers 4 per cent more seats, but consumes one-sixth less fuel.

“Operational reliability, fuel consumption and CO₂ emissions have, so far, exceeded guidelines with very positive passenger and crew feedback to these new, more fuel efficient, quieter aircraft,” he said.

“We continue to work with the EU, our fuel suppliers and aircraft manufacturers to incentivise sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) use.”

The airline aims to power one in eight flights with SAF by 2030.

“These initiatives will help Ryanair achieve our target of cutting CO2 per passenger/km by 10 per cent to just 60 grams by 2030,” the chief executive said.

Ryanair is also calling on the European Commission to accelerate reform of the Continent’s complex air-traffic control arrangements in favour of a “Single European Sky”.

During the six months of summer, the airline’s cash balance rose by more than €1bn to €4.24bn while its net debt fell from €2.28bn to €1.50bn.

Within five years the Irish carrier expects to reach 225 million passengers annually.

In the 12 months to the end of September 2022, Ryanair plans to launch 560 new routes and open 14 new bases. But the company still expects to record a full-year loss of €100m to €200m (£85m to £170m).

“This outturn will be crucially dependent on the continued rollout of vaccines and no adverse Covid-19 developments,” Michael O’Leary said.

Separately, Ryanair released its traffic figures for October 2021, which saw a rise in the load factor to 84 per cent – meaning an average of 30 empty seats on a Boeing 737-800 aircraft.

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