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Ryanair’s average fares fell by 17% in the final three months of last year while its profits were down by 8%, the airline has said. The carrier said prices were “falling faster than we initially planned”.

However, passenger numbers rose by 16% to 29 million in the third quarter, and its planes flew at 95% capacity as the budget airline’s Always Getting Better customer service strategy continued to yield results.

The company said it was “cautious” about the remainder of the financial year, but that profits would be in line with expectations.

‘Downward pressure’

Ryanair’s average fares were 33 euros (£28) per passenger in the October-to-December period, the third quarter of its financial year.

Profits for the quarter fell to 95m euros (£82m), down 103m euros a year earlier.

It said it was increasing capacity and adding new routes and bases at a time when other airlines were also adding capacity, and “accordingly the price environment remains weak”.

Ryanair added that uncertainty following the Brexit vote, weaker sterling and the switch of charter capacity from Turkey, Egypt and North Africa into Spain and Portugal, would “continue to put downward pressure on pricing for the remainder of this year” and next.

The airline said its outlook for the remainder of this year was “cautious”.

However, it said it was “maintaining its full-year profit guidance in the range of 1.30bn to 1.35bn euros”, although it added that “this guidance heavily depends on the absence of any unforeseen security events”.

In the next financial year it said it seemed clear that “pricing will continue to be challenging and we will respond to these adverse market conditions with strong traffic growth and lower unit costs”.

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