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Ryanair reports its first half profit dropped 7%

Ryanair Boeing 737-8AS WL EI-FIZ (msn 44709) (Vitoria - The Basque Connection) PMI (Ton Jochems). Image: 943423.

Ryanair on October 22 reported a 7% fall in H1 profits to €1.20 billion (excluding Laudamotion losses).  Average fares declined 3% due to excess capacity in Europe, an earlier Easter in Q1, repeated ATC strikes/staff shortages which caused a spike in cancellations of higher fare, weekend flights.  Higher fuel, staff and EU261 costs have offset strong ancillary revenue growth.

H1 Results (IFRS)* Sep 30, 2017 Sep 30, 2018 % Change
Guests 72.1m 76.6m +6%
Revenue €4.43bn €4.79bn +8%
PAT €1.29bn €1.20bn -7%
Net Margin 29% 25% -4pts

* excl. €45m exceptional H1 FY19 Laudamotion loss

Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary said:

“As recently guided, H1 average fares fell by 3%.  While ancillary revenues performed strongly, up 27%, these were offset by higher fuel, staff and EU261 costs. Our traffic, which was repeatedly impacted by the worst summer of ATC disruptions on record, grew 6% at an unchanged 96% load factor.

H1 highlights include:

– Traffic grew 6% to 76.6m (LF 96%)

– Fare fell 3% to under €46

– Ancillary revenue rose 27% to €1.3bn

– Agreements signed with Irish, UK, Italian, Portuguese (pilots) & German (cabin crew) unions

– Laudamotion holding increased to 75%

– 23 new B737s delivered

– €540m returned to shareholders via buybacks

New Routes and Growth:

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We took delivery of 23 new Boeing 737-800s in H1 (bringing the fleet to 450) and launched over 100 new S.18 routes.  We have trimmed winter capacity by 1% (including base closures in Eindhoven and Bremen) in response to weaker fares and higher oil prices. We expect FY19 traffic will grow to 141m (incl. 3m Laudamotion).  As we look beyond this winter, we have announced new S.19 bases in Bordeaux, Marseille, London Southend and increased capacity in Luton.  We plan to operate over 100 new routes in S.19.

With spot fuel reaching $85bbl, rising interest rates and the stronger US dollar, airline margins are under pressure and it is inevitable that more of the weaker, unhedged, European airlines will fold this winter.  In recent weeks Skyworks (Switz.), VLM (Bel.), Small Planet & Azur Air (Ger.), Cobalt (Cyprus) and Primera Air (Stansted & Scandinavia) collapsed.  At the same time, many larger airlines are closing bases and cutting routes to minimise winter losses.  We expect more failures this winter and we cannot rule out further capacity cuts or base closures in Ryanair if oil prices rise or air fares fall further. Over the medium term, this consolidation will create growth opportunities for Ryanair’s lowest fare/lowest cost model.

Laudamotion:

In August, we increased our holding in Laudamotion to 75%.  Despite a very difficult first summer, Laudamotion will carry almost 3m guests this year but will lose approximately €150m in start-up Year 1 exceptional costs.  We are working closely with the Laudamotion team who recently launched their S.19 schedule which will see them grow their fleet to 23 aircraft (including 19 A320’s).  Laudamotion have reached agreement to return 9 expensive lease aircraft to Lufthansa this winter and will replace those with lower cost, longer term, operating lease aircraft, which are readily available at competitive terms as more Airbus operators fail.  We are assisting them to improve cost control, fuel hedging and fleet management which will deliver significantly higher revenues and much lower costs next year as the airline moves towards break-even in its 2nd year of operation.

Ancillaries:

Our investment in Labs continues to deliver strong ancillary revenue growth.  In H1 ancillaries increased by 27% to €1.3bn and drove an 8% increase in total revenue to €4.8bn.  Key drivers of this growth were improved conversion of priority boarding and reserved seating.  Membership of “MyRyanair” has increased to 50m members and the Ryanair digital platform now welcomes over 1bn visits p.a.  A major upgrade of our digital platform is underway (website, app & 3rd party ancillary product plug-in) which will facilitate improved personalisation and capacity for traffic growth to 200m p.a. as we rollout relevant ancillary products which fit to each individual customer’s profile and buying patterns.

Cost Leadership:

No other EU airline can match, or come close to, Ryanair’s lowest unit costs and this cost gap is widening.  Airports across Europe are incentivising Ryanair’s reliable traffic growth. As others fail, these incentives are improving. Thanks to our balance sheet strength, our fuel is better hedged than most European competitors with 90% of our 12 month needs (to end Sept. 2019) hedged at approx. $68bbl, well below current spot prices of close to $85bbl.  FY19 is a year of investment in our people, our systems and our business as we prepare to grow to 200m guests p.a. In H1 ex-fuel unit costs increased by 7%. This includes 20% pay increases for pilots, investment in engineering headcount, pilot/cabin crew training costs and, regrettably, elevated EU261 costs arising from repeated ATC strikes/disruptions. Next spring, we take delivery of our first B737-MAX-200 “gamechanger” aircraft.  These planes have 4% more seats, yet are 16% more fuel efficient, have 40% lower noise emissions, are hedged at an average €/$ rate of $1.24 (for 210 aircraft out to FY24) and they will drive continuous unit cost reductions over the next 6 years.

ATC Strikes/Staff Shortages:

Repeated ATC strikes/staff shortages means that 2018 will be the worst year on record for European ATC disruptions. These have caused widespread damage to airline punctuality and schedules.  Ryanair’s H1 on-time fell to 75% from 86% (prior year), with all of this 11% decline due to ATC strikes and ATC staff shortages.  We’ve invested heavily to ensure that everything we control is delivering on-time departures.  We have changed our handling provider at Stansted to ensure that we receive dedicated passenger and aircraft handling, and eliminate the short staffing we suffered at times in Stansted this summer. Ryanair and other airlines have initiated legal action against the French Government to keep Europe’s skies open during French ATC disruptions.  A4E (Airlines for Europe) and Ryanair are also campaigning for the European Commission to take control of the EU air space so that overflights are not disrupted during national ATC strikes.  This does not alter or constrain any individual’s “right to strike” but tries to confine the impact of these ATC strikes to the actual country where the strike occurs.  We continue to call for urgent action from the EC to reduce ATC disruptions in S.19.

Union Progress:

Since Ryanair agreed to recognise unions in December 2017, we’ve made good progress with our union negotiations in major markets including agreements with pilot and cabin crew unions in Ireland, Italy, the UK, Germany (cabin crew) and last week an agreement with our Portuguese pilots.  We continue to engage with unions in our other major markets.  Progress has been slower in other markets such as Spain & Portugal (cabin crew) and Germany (pilots) where competitor employees have interfered to delay agreements with our people and their unions.  While we suffered a small number (just 8 days) of limited strikes this summer, we worked well to minimise disruptions to our customers by operating over 90% of our schedules on each of these days, thanks in large measure to the efforts of the majority of pilots and cabin crew who did not support these disruptions and worked normally.  Ryanair has shown over the past 10 months that we can, and will, work with unions to reach fair and reasonable agreements for our people while retaining our competitiveness and efficiency.  We can also manage strikes, although we do our utmost to avoid them. We will continue to negotiate and conclude union agreements over this winter.  While we hope to finalise more union agreements in the coming months, we cannot rule out occasional industrial action, but we expect their impact to be very limited.

Brexit:

The risk of a hard (“no-deal”) Brexit in March 2019 is rising.  While we hope that a 21-month transition agreement from March 2019 to December 2020 will be implemented (and extended), we remain concerned that the time to complete such an agreement is shortening.  In the event of a hard Brexit our UK shareholders will be treated as non-EU.  In such an event the Board will restrict the voting rights of all non-EU shareholders (and confine them to selling shares only to EU nationals) to ensure that Ryanair remains majority owned and controlled by EU shareholders.  We have applied for a UK AOC to protect our 3 domestic UK routes and are on track to receive it before the end of 2018.

Guidance (excluding Laudamotion):

As updated on 1 October, FY19 PAT is guided in a range of €1.10bn to €1.20bn (excl. Laudamotion).  Following a 3% reduction in H1 fares, we expect fares to fall by c.2% in H2 due to weaker than expected forward fares in Q3 (particularly the October school mid-term and Christmas) and the absence of Easter in Q4.  A 1% reduction in winter capacity means that FY19 traffic will grow by 6% to 138m (141m incl. Laudamotion).  Our fuel bill will be approx. €460m higher than last year and “Other Costs” will be negatively impacted by higher EU261 costs.  Ancillaries continue to perform strongly although (as previously highlighted) the H2 figures will be adversely impacted by timing differences on the recognition of certain fees arising from the adoption of IFRS 15 (positive impact in H1).  This guidance excludes (exceptional) start-up losses in Laudamotion of approx. €150m (which are and will be consolidated in the Ryanair Group full year financial results).

This full year guidance remains heavily dependent on air fares not declining further (they remain soft this winter due to excess capacity in Europe), the impact of significantly higher oil prices on our unhedged exposures, the absence of unforeseen security events, ATC and other strikes and the impact of negative Brexit developments. We cannot rule out further base closures or capacity cuts this winter if oil prices rise or air fares fall further. Winter trading may be positively impacted by the rate and timing of other airline failures which is already creating a ready supply of well trained pilots and cabin crew for S.19 growth.”

Top Copyright Photo: Ryanair Boeing 737-8AS WL EI-FIZ (msn 44709) (Vitoria – The Basque Connection) PMI (Ton Jochems). Image: 943423.

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Ryanair announces its largest London summer schedule for 2019

Ryanair Boeing 737-8AS WL EI-DCL (msn 33806) (Dreamliner colors) AMS (Ton Jochems). Image: 943514.

Ryanair has announced its biggest ever London Summer 2019 schedule, with 23 new routes (over 180 in total), which will deliver 26 million yearly passengers customers through Ryanair’s four London airports – Stansted, Luton, Southend and Gatwick.

Ryanair’s London S19 schedule will deliver:

3 new aircraft based at Southend

2 more aircraft at Luton (6 in total)

23 new routes including:

3  at  Stansted:   Kiev, Lviv and Nantes

6  at  Luton:       Alicante, Athens, Barcelona, Bologna, Cork, Malaga

14 at Southend: Alicante, Bilbao, Brest, Copenhagen, Cluj, Corfu, Dublin, Faro, Kosice, Malaga, Milan, Palma, Reus and Venice

Over 180 routes in total

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In other news, last week Ryanair submitted a complaint to the European Commission over discrimination by UK airline controlled NATS at Stansted, who refuse to explain why 52% of all London ATC delays in Q1 were at Stansted while there was zero such delays at Heathrow and just 10% at Gatwick where (NATS’ shareholders) BA and Easyjet are the main airlines.

“We call on the UK Government and EU to take prompt action against NATS who continue to deliver an atrocious service to airlines despite having amongst the highest ATC fees in the EU, and who are blatantly protecting Heathrow at the expense of all other London airports, especially Stansted. We expect the EU to act quickly to ensure a fairer allocation of NATS resources (and delays) to all 5 London airports, instead of protecting Heathrow.”

Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary said:

 “Ryanair is pleased to launch our biggest ever London S 2019 schedule with over 180 routes from our 4 London airports, including 1 new base at Southend and 23 new routes to exciting destinations such as Barcelona, Bilbao,Copenhagenand Kiev. Our S2019 schedule will deliver 26m customers p.a. through Stansted, Luton, Southend and Gatwick, all at the lowest fares, as we continue to grow London traffic, tourism and jobs.   

We remain concerned at the increasing risk of a hard (no-deal) Brexit in March 2019.  While we hope that a 21-month transition agreement from March 2019 will be agreed, recent events in the UK have added uncertainty, and we believe that the risk of a hard Brexit (which could lead to flights being grounded for a period of days or weeks) is being underestimated.

In other news, the company rejected false claims made by Belgian union CNE that strike action by its small minority of cabin crew on September 28 would cause “travel chaos”.

Ryanair pointed to its experience during previous strikes which included five days of strikes by less than 25% of its Irish pilots this summer, and on each of those days, Ryanair completed 280 of its 300 flights to/from Ireland, because over 75% of its Irish pilots continued to work normally.  In total yesterday Ryanair operated over 2,200 flights and carried over 380,000 customers with no “chaos”.

Yesterday in Germany, despite a strike by pilots and cabin crew, over 70% of Ryanair’s German based pilots and cabin crew reported for work and Ryanair completed over 250 of its daily schedule of 400 flights, because 150 flights had been pre-cancelled on Tuesday September 11 with the small group of affected passengers being reaccommodated and/or refunded.

Ryanair expects that even if there is another limited cabin crew strike on 28th September, the vast majority of its cabin crew across Europe will work as normal.  It also expects a significant majority of its cabin crew in Spain, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Portugal will also work normally, as they have during previous strikes, and accordingly there will not be any “travel chaos” or “widespread disruptions”.

Ryanair’s Kenny Jacobs said:

Repeated false claims made by these unions about “travel chaos” have proven to be unfounded.  While we regret the limited strike actions that have taken place this summer, in all cases we have judiciously pre-cancelled a small number of our 2,500 daily flights in order to minimise customer disruption and inconvenience.

We object to these lurid and inaccurate press headlines which wrongly refer to “travel chaos”, despite the fact that during the seven days of partial strikes by a small minority of our pilots and cabin crew this summer, there has been very little disruption and absolutely no “chaos”. 

 If there is a further unsuccessful cabin crew strike on the 28th Sept next then, as we demonstrated in Germany yesterday, Ryanair will pre-advise customers of a small number of flight cancellations, and the overwhelming majority of Ryanair’s flights and services that day will operate as normal, and we will carry the overwhelming majority of the 400,000 passengers who will be scheduled to fly with us that day.”

Top Copyright Photo (all others by Ryanair): Ryanair Boeing 737-8AS WL EI-DCL (msn 33806) (Dreamliner colors) AMS (Ton Jochems). Image: 943514.

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Ryanair continues its build-up of summer flights from Malta

Ryanair Boeing 737-8AS WL EI-EKW (msn 38506) TLS (Paul Bannwarth). Image: 943421.

Ryanair is planning to operate 61 routes from Luqa, Malta next summer. This represents 10 new routes for Malta.

Ryanair has also announced a new route from Cardiff to Malta, with a twice-weekly service commencing in April 2019, which will be a part of Ryanair’s Summer 2019 schedule.

Top Copyright Photo (all others by Ryanair): Ryanair Boeing 737-8AS WL EI-EKW (msn 38506) TLS (Paul Bannwarth). Image: 943421.

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Ryanair is coming to Exeter, German pilots to strike tomorrow

Ryanair Boeing 737-8AS WL EI-EBC (msn 37520) BSL (Paul Bannwarth). Image: 943420.

Ryanair has announced its first ever flights from Exeter, its newest airport, with 3 new routes to Malaga, Malta and Naples commencing in April, as part of its Summer 2019 schedule.

In other news, Vereinigung Cockpit union issued this statement:

Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) announced a 24-hour strike affecting all Ryanair flights from Germany on Wednesday, September 12, 2018 to push for its demands in talks with the Irish carrier on wages and work conditions according to Reuters.

The union has called on all German-based pilots to strike the airline from Wednesday 0101 GMT until Thursday 0059 GMT.

Ryanair reacted this way:

Ryanair on September 11, 2018 condemned the surprise and unnecessary threatened pilot strike in Germany on Wednesday, September 12. The VC Union, which threatened this strike late on Monday evening, has not consulted with Ryanair’s German pilots, and has no reasonable basis for disrupting customers travel plans when Ryanair has already agreed to negotiate local contracts in Germany, agreed to mediation, and has proposed Mr Kieran Mulvey, who successfully mediated the Irish pilots dispute, is therefore familiar with all of these issues, and is available to work immediately.

Ryanair condemned the VC Union and its negotiator Ingolf Schumacher, who has failed to consult with Ryanair’s German pilots, who last Friday evening was unable to explain any difference between mediation and arbitration in Germany (when Ryanair has agreed to mediation), and who has called this strike at short (24 hours) notice, which can only damage Ryanair’s business and some of its bases in Germany, and may lead to aircraft and job cuts in the German market this winter.

Ryanair has written to its passengers this morning confirming that it will try to run its full German schedule tomorrow, September 12. Passengers are being offered a free move to flights on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday if they so wish, and Ryanair has also written to its German based pilots and cabin crew this morning advising them to work as normal tomorrow Wednesday, and to put its customers first rather than blindly following this damaging and unnecessary strike threat.

Meanwhile Ryanair has made this statement concerning ATC staff shortages on social media:

Copyright Photo (all others by Ryanair): Ryanair Boeing 737-8AS WL EI-EBC (msn 37520) BSL (Paul Bannwarth). Image: 943420.

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Board of Ryanair restores six aircraft to Dublin base for winter 2018

Ryanair Boeing 737-8AS WL EI-DWT (msn 33626) (Vigo - Cies Islands) PMI (Ton Jochems). Image: 943419.

Ryanair made this announcement:

The Board of Ryanair Holdings on Friday September 7, 2018 announced that it has decided to restore six Dublin based aircraft which were due to transfer to Poland in November for the winter 2018 schedule.

The related protective notices issued to 300 Dublin pilots and cabin crew in July have also been withdrawn.

This decision was taken to respond favorably to the mediation agreement overseen by Mr Kieran Mulvey, which brought an end to five days of unsuccessful but damaging strikes by less than 25% of Ryanair’s Irish based pilots during July and August.

Ryanair’s Chief People Office, Eddie Wilson, said:

The Board of Ryanair thanked independent mediator, Kieran Mulvey for his contribution in finalising an agreement between Ryanair and just 25% of our Irish pilots.  We regret that mediation became necessary after five days of unsuccessful strikes which, despite causing minimal damage to Ryanair’s schedules, did damage our forward fares and yields to/from Ireland because of the perception of possible disruptions. 

The Board and management of Ryanair are committed to union recognition, and working constructively with our people and their unions to address their reasonable concerns, as long as this does not alter Ryanair’s low cost model or our ability to offer low fares to our customers. 

Since December last year, when the Board announced that we would recognise unions, Ryanair’s people have enjoyed significant pay increases, improved terms and conditions, and we have agreed to improved seniority structures, base transfers and annual leave.  We have done this in a year when we expect profits to fall by 15% due to a combination of higher fuel prices and higher staff costs.”

Top Copyright Photo (all others by Ryanair): Ryanair Boeing 737-8AS WL EI-DWT (msn 33626) (Vigo – Cies Islands) PMI (Ton Jochems). Image: 943419.

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Ryanair continues to grow in Poland

Ryanair Boeing 737-8AS WL EI-EXF (msn 40322) (Costa Brava - Pirineau de Girona) PMI (Ton Jochems). Image: 943422.

Ryanair has launched its biggest ever Summer 2019 schedule, during which it will base 2 new aircraft at Modlin and Krakow, and add 17 new routes, with 210 routes in total, which will deliver 12.5 million customers yearly through Ryanair’s 13 Polish airports next year, as Polish traffic grows 4% in Poland.

Ryanair’s Poland S19 schedule will deliver:

17 new routes including:

– Modlin (4) to Amman, Kiev, Lviv and Marseille

– Bydgoszcz (2) to Glasgow and Kiev

– Gdansk (2) to Barcelona and Kiev

– Krakow (5) to Amman, Bordeaux, Hamburg, Kiev and Lviv

– Poznan (3) to Cork, Kiev and Stockholm

– Wroclaw (1) to Kiev

Ryanair’s charter airline, Ryanair Sun, continues to grow strongly, carrying 700,000 customers in Summer 2018 season while currently negotiating a wider charter program for Summer 2019 with Poland’s leading tour operators.

In other news, Ryanair confirmed it will give a free 10kg checked bag to all 2 million non-priority customers who booked before August 31, 2018, for travel after November 1, 2018, the date when Ryanair introduces its new cheaper 10kg check bag service, and eliminates all free gate bags and related flight delays. All of these 2 million non-priority customers have been advised by email that a free 10kg checked bag has been added to their booking.

In addition, there are approximately 50,000 passengers who booked on/before August 31, 2018 but bought priority boarding (as a separate service) after September 1, 2018 since this new policy was introduced on August 31, 2018. All these passengers have had the €8 cost of their priority boarding refunded but Ryanair will still allow them to travel with priority boarding free of charge.

Top Copyright Photo (all others by Ryanair): Ryanair Boeing 737-8AS WL EI-EXF (msn 40322) (Costa Brava – Pirineau de Girona) PMI (Ton Jochems). Image: 943422.

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Ryanair adds two Boeing 737-800s and 6 new routes from London Luton

Ryanair Boeing 737-8AS WL EI-FOZ (msn 44731) HHN (Rainer Bexten). Image: 939090.

Ryanair has announced an investment of $200 million at London Luton airport with 2 new based aircraft (6 aircraft in total) for its winter 2018 schedule and has also added 6 new routes to Alicante (3 weekly), Athens (3 weekly), Barcelona (daily), Bologna (daily), Cork (6 weekly) and Malaga (6 weekly) and more flights on its existing Vilnius route.

Ryanair’s winter 2018 London Luton schedule will now deliver a total of 21 routes at LTN.

Top Copyright Photo (all others by Ryanair): Ryanair Boeing 737-8AS WL EI-FOZ (msn 44731) HHN (Rainer Bexten). Image: 939090.

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