Tag Archives: Ryanair

Ryanair becomes the first airline to carry over 10 million international passengers in a month, load factor reaches 95%

Ryanair (Dublin) has set a new airline record. The airline becomes the first airline in the world to carry over 10 million international passengers in one month.

The airline issued its traffic statistics for July and noted this accomplishment:

Ryanair logo-3

Load Factor Rises 4% Points To 95%

First airline to carry 10 million international customers in a month

Ryanair’s Kenny Jacobs said:

“Ryanair’s July traffic grew by 11% to 10.1 million customers, while our load factor jumped 4% points to 95%. This is the first time ever that any airline has carried over 10 million international customers in one calendar month. For example, we carried more customers in one month (10.14 million in July) than Aer Lingus carried in a whole year (9.77 million in 2014).

These record customer numbers and highest ever load factors are due to our lower fares, our stronger forward bookings and the continuing success of our “Always Getting Better” customer experience program, which continues to deliver stronger than expected traffic and load factors on our biggest ever summer schedule.

Ryanair customers can look forward to more service enhancements in the autumn, as we continue Year 2 of our AGB program, which include a new website, new app, new cabin interiors, new crew uniforms, improved inflight menus, reduced fees, and great new digital features such as ‘hold the fare’, as Ryanair continues to deliver so much more than just the lowest fares in Europe.”

Copyright Photo: Paul Bannwarth/AirlinersGallery.com. Boeing 737-8AS EI-DWG (msn 33620) breaks through the clouds in order to land at Las Palmas in the Canary Islands.

Ryanair aircraft slide show: AG Airline Slide Show

AG Vote for Favorites

 

Ryanair’s fiscal first quarter profit is up 25% to €245 million, load factor climbs to 92%

Ryanair (Dublin) today reported on its fiscal first quarter financial results. The company reported a first quarter net profit after taxes of €245 million ($271.1 million), up 25 percent from the same quarter a year ago.

Meanwhile Traffic grew 16 percent to 28 million passengers. The load factor climbed six percentage points to an astounding 92 percent.

Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary said:

“We are pleased to report strong growth in traffic and profits in Q1. Our mix of low fares, best on time performance (91% in Q1) and enhanced customer experience under our “Always Getting Better” (“AGB”) program, continues to attract millions of new customers. At the same time our focus on cost (Q1 unit costs fell 7%) enables us to pass on lower fares to customers. Q1 average fare fell 4% to just €45, due to the timing of Easter, weaker April yields and lower checked bag penetration as more families and business customers enjoy discounts on their luggage or benefit from our free 2nd carry-on bag policy.”

The airline continued:

Ryanair logo-3

New Routes and Bases:

We continue to be inundated with growth offers from primary and secondary airports, whose incumbent carriers are cutting capacity and traffic. These new airports, along with our 72 existing bases offer significant growth opportunities as we embark on our new Boeing 737-800 program. This winter we take delivery of 31 aircraft which (net of lease returns), means our fleet will increase to 340 Boeing 737-800’s by year end.

In September we open our 6th German base in Berlin where we have a 5% share of the German market and expect to grow this strongly over the next 5 years. Gothenburg (our 2nd Swedish base) will also open in September. In November, Israel will become our 31st country served when we start flights to Eilat Ovda Airport from Budapest, Kaunas and Krakow.

Two weeks ago we decided, in the best interests of our customers and people, to close our 2 Danish bases in Copenhagen and Billund. This followed threats by the Danish Unions who admitted that they had no members among our Copenhagen pilots or cabin crew to get their members (competitor airline employees) to blockade/disrupt our flights. By moving the aircraft from Copenhagen and Billund to airports outside Denmark the unions have no legal basis for imposing these threatened disruptions, which allows us to continue to grow strongly in Copenhagen without union interference.

Customer Experience:

The year 2 rollout of AGB continues apace as we work to improve the travel experience of our millions of customers. In April we cut fees for sports equipment. In May we upgraded our mobile app to include improvements to the “My Ryanair” customer registration function which facilitates faster and easier booking of our low fares. We added Sabre as our 3rd GDS partner in June and in July we celebrated our 30th birthday with a 1m €19.85 seat sale.

We have also enhanced our Groups travel service with a dedicated groups page on http://www.ryanair.com. Ryanair joined Facebook in July, which provides another channel to communicate with, and listen to our customers. Ryanair’s campaign to “Keep Greece Flying”, under which we dropped prices on Greek domestic routes to just €4.99 one way while also cutting fares on international routes to/from Greece by 30% has been well received. Our on time performance leads the industry, and has further improved in Q1 despite the impact of the French ATC strikes, and the closure of T3 in Rome Fiumicino.

There is a lot more AGB development to come later this year, including a new personalised web site in October, new aircraft interiors, new crew uniforms and new bases.

Hedging:

Fuel is 90% hedged for FY16 at approx. $91 pbl and we have taken advantage of recent lower oil prices to increase our FY17 fuel hedging to 70% at an ave. rate of just under $66 pbl. This will deliver significant fuel bill savings in FY17 of up to €250m (based on current hedging). Our advantageous US$ CapEx hedging, along with our low cost eurobond financing, will help us to continue to purchase and operate aircraft at very low costs which further widens the cost advantage that Ryanair enjoys over all other EU airline competitors.

Balance Sheet:

Ryanair’s balance sheet remains one of the strongest in the industry. In Q1, despite CapEx of €324m and share buybacks of €195m, our net cash increased to over €550m (from €364m in March). We have completed almost 90% of our current €400m share buyback programme which when it closes in August, will mean we have returned almost €3bn to our shareholders via special dividends and share buybacks since 2008.

IAG – Aer Lingus:

On July 10, the Board of Ryanair voted unanimously to accept the IAG offer for Ryanair’s 29.8% stake in Aer Lingus. The timing of this sale is appropriate as our original plan for Aer Lingus (to use it as a mid-priced brand to offer competition at primary airports) has been overtaken by our AGB programme under which Ryanair has successfully entered many of Europe’s primary airports opening new routes and bases but offering competition and consumer choice. As the Ryanair brand develops and continues to grow strongly, the original rationale for acquiring Aer Lingus no longer exists. If the IAG offer is successful, then we would expect to receive these proceeds in mid/late September and the Board will consider our use of the proceeds around the time of our AGM.

We will continue to oppose the UK CMA’s baseless 2013 divestment ruling, (and their recent rejection of Ryanair’s request to review that decision), which was based on the invented theory that no other airline would bid for Aer Lingus while Ryanair was a minority shareholder. This has been hopelessly exposed by IAG’s current offer for Aer Lingus, even while Ryanair was its largest single shareholder.

Outlook:

Due to the exciting growth opportunities that exist for Ryanair’s low fares and AGB customer experience, as well as strong customer demand, we expanded our W15 business schedules which will increase our FY16 traffic target from 100m to 103m. This will be achieved through a combination of strong load factor (90%) and fewer winter groundings (approx. 40). Traffic should increase by 13% in H1 and slightly faster at 15% in H2.

Based on this Q1 performance and reasonable visibility into Q2 (which is heavily dependent on late bookings in Aug and Sept) we now believe that average fares for H1 will be broadly flat (previous guidance 0% to -2%). We have very little visibility into H2, during which we expect that our faster capacity growth (up 15%) and lower oil prices may lead to an aggressive pricing response from competitors who will try to defend their market shares. We therefore remain very cautious about weaker prices and yields this winter. Since Ryanair’s policy is to be load factor active/yield passive we expect that H2 fares will be towards the higher end of our -4% to –8% guidance range.

Our focus on unit cost continues and we expect that unit costs will fall by approx. 3% (aided by higher traffic). Fuel will deliver a saving of close to 7% and unit costs ex-fuel will be broadly flat. Ancillary revenue will be well ahead of our long term target of 20% of total revenue but will track behind the 14% growth in customer numbers in FY16.

We think it is too early in the year to alter our full year profit guidance, although the slightly better H1 yields will push it towards the upper end of our previously guided range of €940m to €970m net profit. We caution however that this guidance, which is 12% ahead of last year’s profit, is heavily reliant on the final outturn of H2 fares over which we currently have almost zero visibility. Ryanair will continue to pursue its strategy of being load factor active and yield passive for the benefit of our customers, our people and our shareholders.”

Copyright Photo: Paul Bannwarth/AirlinersGallery.com. Boeing 737-8AS EI-DWX (msn 33630) lands at Tenerife Sur.

Ryanair aircraft slide show: AG Airline Slide Show

JustPlanes 25 Years banner

 

Ryanair agrees to sell its 29.8% stake in Aer Lingus to IAG

Ryanair (Dublin) has agreed to sell its 29.8 percent share in Aer Lingus (Dublin) to the International Airlines Group-IAG (British Airways, Iberia and Vueling Airlines) (London). The airline issued this statement:

Ryanair logo-3

The Board of Ryanair Holdings PLC today (July 10) confirmed that it has voted unanimously to accept the IAG offer for Ryanair’s 29.8% shareholding in Aer Lingus Group plc. Ryanair’s stake in Aer Lingus has been available for sale since May 2012 and the Board believes that the current IAG offer maximizes Ryanair shareholder value.

In line with this decision, Ryanair will now vote in favor of the motion at the Aer Lingus EGM on July 16 (to give the Irish Government a golden share over Aer Lingus’s Heathrow slots) and Ryanair will also vote its 29.8% shareholding in favor of acceptance of the IAG offer, subject to this offer receiving regulatory approval from the European competition authorities.

Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary said:

“We believe the IAG offer for Aer Lingus is a reasonable one in the current market and we plan to accept it, in the best interests of Ryanair shareholders. The price means that Ryanair will make a small profit on its investment in Aer Lingus over the past 9 years.

This sale of our stake is timely given that our original strategy for Aer Lingus (to use it as a mid-priced brand to offer competition to flag carriers at primary airports) has been overtaken by the successful rollout – since September 2013 – of Ryanair’s “Always Getting Better” strategy, which has seen the Ryanair brand successfully enter many of Europe’s primary airports, being rewarded with strong growth in our network, traffic, load factor and profitability, while keeping our fares low and our punctuality high.

We wish IAG well with their takeover of Aer Lingus. When Ryanair first bid for Aer Lingus in late 2006, Ryanair (36 million passengers) carried 4 times Aer Lingus traffic (9 million). Today Ryanair (over 100 million) carries more than 10 times Aer Lingus traffic (10 million), and we will continue to deliver the vast majority of Ireland’s traffic and tourism growth in the coming months and years.”

Ken Odeluga, a senior market analyst at www.cityindex.com.sg comments on this latest news:

City Index logo

It has taken the better part of seven months for IAG to put the final pieces of the Aer Lingus puzzle in place.

Ryanair has, after much delay, which it insisted was not down to intransigence, agreed to sell its 30% to IAG, which had already struck a deal with Ireland’s government to purchase the country’s 25%.

Reports that the EU will swiftly grant conditional approval appear credible.

Concessions by IAG were accepted by the antitrust authorities this morning. IAG offered to relinquish some slots and to give its competitors special terms, like allowing them to provide connecting at favourable terms.

All these agreements will tend to focus investors’ minds back on the details of the €1.3 billion bid, for which a strong part of the rationale rests on highly prized routes from Heathrow and lucrative routes between the UK and North America.

Aer Lingus had 300 slots at Heathrow as of December, with industry figures suggesting each is worth at least £5 million  per annum.

Also, Aer Lingus is not the unprofitable airline it was say about 15 years ago or more. It’s stronger in margin terms than Lufthansa, for instance, and had at least €550 million in free cash at last tally.

The additional 3.5%-4% of Heathrow market share will consolidate IAG’s dominance at the hub, ahead of the extension of capacity.

But now comes the hard part.

Despite its recent forecast upgrades, IAG remains the least profitable airline operator based in the UK or Ireland.

EasyJet and Ryanair are tightly matched and each seems to swap marginal dominance over the other every few years or so.

Either way, the pair has largely locked out all other large competitors in Europe, including IAG, for the last decade.

Plus, having already written down the value of its Aer Lingus stake, Ryanair’s £400 million proceeds from the sale will go straight to its bottom line.

The only way for a rival catch and match with the two above in terms of profits, is to grow, probably inorganically, and probably not in Europe, in the medium term.

With the soon-to-be-cemented deal, IAG has given itself the best chance among any large European carrier to close the profit gap, and the scale to absorb strategic hits to margins in Europe.

Top Copyright Photo: Paul Bannwarth/AirlinersGallery.com. Ryanair Boeing 737-8AS EI-DPM (msn 33640) lands in Tenerife Sur.

Ryanair aircraft slide show: AG Airline Slide Show

Aer Lingus clover logo

Aer Lingus aircraft slide show: AG Airline Slide Show

Bottom Copyright Photo: AirlinersGallery.com. Aer Lingus Airbus A319-111 EI-EPU (msn 3102) taxies to the gate at London’s Heathrow Airport.

Skyshirts banner ad-1

Ryanair is coming to Eilat, Israel, will name 30 aircraft after 30 Facebook fans

Ryanair (Dublin) has announced its first Israeli flights, with three new twice-weekly routes from Eilat’s Ovda Airport to Budapest, Kaunas and Krakow commencing in November.

In other news, Ryanair has opened a Facebook page (see below) joining most other carriers. According to the airline;

“To celebrate its new Facebook account and 30th birthday, Ryanair has launched a ‘30 Names 30 Planes’ competition, offering 30 fans the chance to have their name and face pictured on one of 30 Ryanair aircraft. Entry is through the Ryanair Facebook page, where fans can upload their photo and download a CGI video of their own Ryanair aircraft bearing their name and face, and the 30 lucky winners will be announced in September. ”

Ryanair 30 Years car (Ryanair)(LRW)

Photo Above: Ryanair.

Top Copyright Photo: Paul Bannwarth/AirlinersGallery.com. Boeing 737-8AS EI-DHZ (msn 33583) arrives in Tenerife Sur.

Ryanair aircraft slide show: AG Airline Slide Show

JustPlanes 25 Years banner

Ryanair to open a new base at Gothenburg, wants a three runway solution and will launch the Edinburgh – Copenhagen route

Ryanair (Dublin) will open its 74th base at Gothenburg in September with one based aircraft and 13 routes.

In other news, Ryanair has called for a three runway solution in the South East England (London) area. The airline issued this statement in response to the proposed third runway at London Heathrow:

Ryanair logo-3

“Ryanair believes that the proposed Heathrow runway – which won’t be delivered for 10 or 15 years – won’t solve the runway capacity crisis in the South East. Ryanair strongly advocates taking politicians out of runway decision making and allowing each of the three London airports, Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, to build 3 competing runways which will solve the capacity crisis in the South East for the next 100 years, while at the same time allowing competition between the airports to deliver this capacity efficiently. It remains a fact that additional runways in Stansted and Gatwick can and will be delivered much earlier than any Heathrow third runway.”

The company reported its June traffic grew 14 percent to 9.5 million customers. Its load factor rose five points to 93 percent!

Finally, the ultra low-fare airline announced a new route linking its Edinburgh base with Copenhagen. The new route will operate three days a week starting on November 6.

Copyright Photo: Paul Bannwarth/AirlinersGallery.com. Boeing 737-8AS EI-ENC (msn 34980) approaches the runway at Las Palmas.

Ryanair aircraft slide show: AG Airline Slide Show

AG Hang one of our framable prints

Air France-KLM, easyJet, IAG, Lufthansa Group and Ryanair call for a new EU Aviation Strategy

European Union flag

The CEOs of Europe’s five largest airline groups – Air France-KLM, easyJet, International Airlines Group (IAG), Lufthansa Group and Ryanair – met collectively for the first time today (June 17) and agreed to work together to lobby for the development of a new EU Aviation Strategy that will support growth and jobs across Europe, strengthen the sector and give Europe’s passengers lower fares and more choice.

Air France-KLM logo

The meeting took place (in Brussels) in response to the new EU Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc’s consultation on a new EU Aviation Strategy. The five agreed a vision for this strategy that would match the revolution in aviation that the liberalization of Europe’s airline sector created a generation ago, through the creation of the internal aviation market.

easyJet (UK) 2015 logo

The five airlines identified four measures that would support the Commission‘s objectives of enhancing the competitiveness of the European air transport industry both at European and international level, supporting growth and jobs across Europe and which would help consumers through the provision of more flights and lower fares.
These measures are:

The development of an EU Aviation strategy with a plan for a simple efficient regulatory structure, which would strengthen the competitiveness of European airlines, ensure jobs and growth through innovation (e.g. Horizon 2020), protect consumer interests and promote more efficiency to reduce costs.

Lowering the cost of the EU’s airports by ensuring that monopoly airports are effectively regulated; ensuring that passengers receive the full benefit of the commercial revenues which they create at airports; and that security charges are efficient. This could be achieved by reforming the Airport Charges Directive.

Delivering reliable and efficient airspace by reducing the cost of ATC provision; ensuring that ATC strikes do not cause disruption to passengers across Europe; resetting the Single European Sky strategy by focusing on using new technology to make efficiency savings; and using SESAR funding to drive compliance with the Single Sky framework.
Stimulating more economic activity and jobs by creating the right regulatory environment, removing passenger taxes and unreasonable environmental taxes.

IAG logo

The five CEOs – Alexandre de Juniac, Carolyn McCall, Willie Walsh, Carsten Spohr and Michael O’Leary – outlined their vision:

“Europe’s airlines form the most competitive sector in aviation with a diverse mix of carriers offering competition and choice to consumers.This is the first time we have set aside our competitive battles to highlight the importance of a new European Aviation Strategy.

The liberalization of aviation in Europe in the 1990’s, creating a fully liberalized single market with a comprehensive common regulatory framework 18 years ago, strongly enhanced competition across Europe.As a result, consumers have benefited with substantially lower fares and more routes across Europe and to the rest of the world. At the same time, EU airlines have maintained leading safety standards. The range and quality of services have increased and airline costs have fallen by 1 – 2% per year for the last two decades.

Lufthansa Group logo

We believe that this decline should now be matched by a reduction in those costs which airlines do not control themselves. “As the new Transport Commissioner prepares a new Aviation Strategy for Europe she must drive more competition, encourage more efficiency and help reduce costs in other parts of our industry (such as monopoly airports and Air Traffic Control providers) and reduce the tax burden on passengers.”

Aviation is a proven driver of economic growth and jobs. The proposed measures will create many hundreds of thousands of jobs – particularly for young people, at a time of high youth unemployment in countries such as Italy or Spain – and increase Europe’s GDP. The group will write to the EU Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc asking for these measures to be put in place.

Ryanair logo-3

Alongside the proposed policy positions the five CEO’s confirmed their support for several key principles and action items which should underpin EU aviation policy. The most important of these is the commitment to safety and ensuring that safety standards are developed based on a risk based scientific assessment.

The CEOs confirmed their support for the liberalization of the whole aviation value chain and for pro-competition policy and regulation within the EU. They also confirmed their opposition to the provision of State-aid, as a general principle, to airlines and airports. They agreed that EU and national regulation and policies should support the efficient delivery of services, and that this includes the need for efficient operations to minimise the environmental impact of aviation. The importance of balanced consumer rights was also underlined; EU and national policies need to ensure that consumer rights are respected.

The CEOs agreed to work together to encourage the Commission and EU member states to take up the proposed measures. The five airlines agreed that airline representation in Brussels today is not as effective as it could be – with six airline representative organisations – and agreed to explore possible forms of future representation.

The five airlines between them carried a total of 420 million passengers in 2014, accounting for half of the passenger journeys in Europe.

Ryanair full year profit jumps 66% to €867 million on renewed customer service, will lease in six aircraft

Ryanair logo-3

Ryanair (Dublin) announced a full year net profit of €867 million ($947.7 million) for the fiscal year ending on March 31.

The company issued this statement:

Ryanair’s CEO, Michael O’Leary, said:

“We are pleased to celebrate Ryanair’s 30th Birthday by reporting this 66% increase in net profit which demonstrates the enduring strength of Ryanair’s lowest fare/lowest cost model which has been transformed by the success of our “Always Getting Better” (AGB) customer experience program. AGB has attracted millions of new customers to Ryanair.

Highlights of the past year include:

– Traffic up 11% to 90.6 million as load factors rose from 83% to 88%

– Unit costs ex fuel were flat (including fuel they fell 5%)

– Net profits rose 66% as net margin jumped from 10% to 15%

– Earlier loading of schedules led to materially stronger forward bookings

– AGB Year 1 program delivered, Year 2 improvements rolled out

– Ryanair Labs is transforming our digital and mobile platforms

– Lead customer order for 200 x Boeing 737 Max 200 aircraft

– 2nd Eurobond issue (€850m @ 1.125% coupon) lowers our finance costs.

Business Development:

Over the past year we have relentlessly improved our lowest fare/lowest cost model. We have expanded into primary airports, added business schedules and extended long term low cost growth deals at major bases including London (STN) and Dublin where the Irish Government has rebooted tourism by abolishing the travel tax.

Our AGB program is transforming our customer experience, our service, and the way we listen and respond to our customers. We have won substantial traffic and share gains in all markets. We are now the No. 1 or No. 2 airline in most EU countries except France and Germany (where we are a rapidly growing No. 3). Since our Year 1 AGB program has been so successful we have launched our Year 2 program as part of our strategy to make Ryanair Europe’s most customer friendly, as well as its lowest fare, airline.

This combination of lowest fares and improving customer experience has led to higher load factors and double digit traffic growth. To facilitate this growth we have ordered 183 Boeing 737-800’s for delivery from 2014-2018, and 200 Boeing 737 Max 200’s from 2019-2023 (including 100 option aircraft). These aircraft will deliver at lower US$ rates and much lower Eurobond finance rates which (with 8 extra seats and 18% more efficient engines) will transform our aircraft costs and enable us to lower fares, which underpins our traffic and market share growth, while maintaining and/or growing margins.

Operations:

Our summer 2015 fleet of 320 aircraft is insufficient to handle the demand for Ryanair’s low fares. We will lease-in 6 aircraft in the peak period (7 in 2014) to help meet this surging demand. We expect over half of our growth to occur at primary airports such as Brussels, Lisbon, Rome, Athens, Copenhagen, Berlin, Cologne, Dublin and London (STN). Much of this growth is being stimulated by our Business Plus and Family Extra services which have been key features of our AGB program and our successful entry/growth at these primary airports.

We continue to deliver industry leading punctuality despite the occasional and repeated damage inflicted on our operations by unjustified ATC strikes and airspace closures or by adverse weather in different European regions during the winter schedule as follows:-

Last year we set out a strategy to drive stronger forward bookings, encourage customers to book earlier to avail of lower prices and deliver higher load factors. These higher load factors have helped to reduce unit costs and boosted ancillary sales. I am pleased that forward bookings, as we enter the S15 peak (June to Sept), are on average 4% ahead of last year, and we expect this will lead to a 2% points rise in load factors from 88% to 90% in FY16 especially as customers enjoy our AGB service improvements.

Revenue and Costs:

We celebrate the 30th anniversary of Ryanair first bringing low fares to Europe ( July 8, 1985) by growing our traffic 11% to 90.6 million customers. This generated revenue growth of 12% which was a pleasing result given we had no new aircraft deliveriesin summer 2014. Ancillary revenues grew at a slightly faster rate than traffic so total revenue rose 12% to over €5.6 billion.

Unit costs which benefited from lower unhedged fuel prices (10% of volume) fell by 5%. Excluding fuel our unit costs were flat, which was an impressive performance in a year where we made a substantial move to more expensive primary airports without compromising our 25 minute turnarounds. The fact that we maintained flat unit costs (ex-fuel) while many competitors saw their unit costs rise means that our cost leadership over competitors has widened during the last year. This bodes well for our growth, especially as we move into airports and routes where our competitors are charging markedly higher fares. This price advantage has helped Ryanair win substantial market share from competitor airlines in Dublin and London (STN), in particular.

Hedging:

Over the last year we have taken advantage of currency and fuel price weakness where possible, to establish a very favourable hedge position as follows:

– oil is 90% hedged for FY16 at $92 pbl

– oil is 36% hedged for FY17 at $69 pbl

– US$ OpEx is 90% hedged for FY16 & FY17 at $1.33 & $1.19 respectively

– US$ CapEx is 100% hedged for FY16, FY17 & FY18 at $1.37, $1.34 & $1.23 respectively

This favorable US$ hedging will deliver significant aircraft, maintenance and fuel savings over the next 2 years, even before we engage in further oil hedging during periods of price weakness.

Balance Sheet and Shareholder Returns:

Our rising profits are generating significant free cash flows, which has enabled us to deliver substantial returns to shareholders. In Feb. 2015 we paid our 3rd special dividend of €520 million (€0.37 per share) and then launched our 6th share buyback under which we hope to buy and retire €400 million of ordinary shares by the end of August. This will bring the cash returned to shareholders over the past 8 years to almost €3 billion.

Despite these pay-outs we still finished the year with €364 million in net cash and a balance sheet rated BBB+ by both S&P and Fitch Ratings, the highest rating of any airline worldwide. We expect our Eurobond program, (under which we have raised €1.7 billion unsecured at blended rates of 1.50% p.a.) will lower our financing costs, boost profitability and continue to strengthen our balance sheet.

Regulation:

Europe’s airline industry continues to be blighted by over-regulation which frequently places producer monopoly protection above the interest of consumers, or growth in tourism and jobs. Examples such as Europe’s discredited ETS system, the shambles of our single sky project and the failure to prohibit ATC strikes (either by “no strike” legislation, or binding arbitration) allows the ATC Unions to regularly and repeatedly close Europe’s skies.

The UK CMA’s 2013 divestment ruling under which this UK regulator orders one Irish airline to reduce its minority stake in another, solely on the basis of “secret” evidence that no other airline would bid for Aer Lingus while Ryanair held a minority 29.8% shareholding, has now been hopelessly disproven by IAG’s offer. We have written to the CMA calling on them to reverse this ruling but have been amazed that they (in their provisional decision) have claimed that the IAG bid for Aer Lingus (which they predicted would not happen) is not a “change of circumstances”. We believe the CMA will be totally discredited if they do not reverse this manifestly erroneous ruling.

In the meantime our approach to the IAG offer remains unchanged. The Board of Ryanair will consider any offer (should we receive one) from IAG on its merits, if or when it is received.

Ryanair strongly supports the development of additional runway capacity in the London market. We believe that the market should be free to develop 3 new runways, one each at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted which is the only long term solution to the capacity crisis in the South East, and which will encourage all 3 airports to deliver additional capacity quickly and cost efficiently.

Outlook:

Thanks to our lowest fares, our growth into primary airports and the remarkable impact of our Year 1 AGB program, we continue to experience strong demand and forward booking momentum. Average load factors in the first 4 months of 2015 grew by 10%. While this will slow to 1% or 2% over the peak summer months (due to high p/y comparables) forward bookings are on average 4% ahead of this time last year, as our earlier schedules, lower prices and AGB customer program, particularly at primary airports attracts millions of new customers to Ryanair.

While our traffic growth this year will be strong, (up 10%), it would be foolish not to expect some irrational pricing response from competitors who cannot compete with our lowest costs and fares. Ryanair will remain vigorously “load factor active/price passive”. Therefore, even with the benefit of lower oil, aircraft and financing costs we may suffer periods of fare/yield weakness especially during the H2 winter season. This is why our yield guidance remains cautious at broadly flat in H1 but down 4% to 8% in H2 for a forecast FY yield decline of 2%. If this decline proves accurate then we believe that lower unit costs in FY16 will still provide a 10% improvement in profits, which should (subject to H2 yields over which we have no visibility) rise to a range of €940 million to €970 million for the full year to March 2016.”

Hannah Maundrell Editor in chief of money.co.uk comments:

“Who ever thought we’d see Ryanair’s customer focus heralded as exemplary? Their impressive profits should act as a clear lesson to any company that thinks low prices excuse poor standards. Consumers want value for money, and they want to be treated fairly. Ryanair is proof that it’s never too late to turn things around.”

Copyright Photo below: Guillaume Besnard/AirlinersGallery.com. Ryanair will have to lease in six aircraft this summer to meet demand. Ryanair Boeing 737-8AS WL EI-EKJ (msn 38497) with “Comunitat Valenciana” sub-titles departs from Barcelona.

Ryanair aircraft slide show: AG Airline Slide Show