Ryanair downgrades forecast as profits slump

Ryanair headquarters
By Lisa James
Home » Ryanair downgrades forecast as profits slump

Ryanair Holdings made a net profit of €15 million (£12.8m) in the three months to the end of December 2023, far less than the €211m it recorded the previous year, and despite growth in traffic and fares.

Traffic was up 7% to 41.4m and average fares up 13% to more than €42, due to a strong October, mid-term and peak Christmas/New Year travel. Load factor was down 1% to 92%.

But Ryanair explained ‘close-in’ Christmas and New Year loads and yields were lower than previously expected because the airline had ‘lowered prices in response to the sudden (but welcome) removal of flights from OTA websites in early December’. 

Profit after tax for the nine months to 31 December 2023 was up 39% at €2.19 billion, compared to €1.58bn the previous year.

Chief Executive Michael O’Leary urged customers to ‘book early… to secure the lowest fares for summer ‘24 before they sell out’, warning European short-haul capacity is expected to be behind summer 2023 as competitors ground A320 aircraft, due to unscheduled maintenance work on Pratt & Whitney engines.

Ancillary revenue increased 10% to €0.95bn, approximately €23 per passenger. Total Q3 revenue rose 17% to €2.7bn, but operating costs increased 26% to €2.7bn, mainly because of increased fuel prices, higher staff costs and the earlier timing of maintenance. 

The airline has narrowed its after-tax profit forecast to between €1.85bn and €1.95bn for the 12 months to the end of March 2024. It previously forecast just over €2bn at the top of the range.

The possibility of more delays in the delivery of new Boeing 787 MAX 8 aircraft (B737 Gamechangers), could further impact the forecast.

Ryanair had taken delivery of 136 B737 Gamechangers by the end of December 2023 and expects to have 174 by late June in time for peak summer 2024 – seven short of the amount agreed. Ryanair warned: “There remains a risk that some of these deliveries could slip further.”

The airline added: “This guidance and the full year result remains heavily dependent upon avoiding unforeseen adverse events in Q4 (such as the Ukraine war, the Israel-Hamas conflict and further Boeing delivery delays).”

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