Ryanair has made its first annual profit since the pandemic as it cashes in on add-ons.
The budget airline reported a £1.2bn profit in the 12 months to March, following a £308m loss the year before as Covid continued to wreak havoc across the industry.
But as vacationers took to the air again, it carried 169 million passengers in the financial year, up from 97 million in the previous 12 months.
More than a third of the £9.3bn turnover came from extra costs for customers, including extra costs for priority boarding and sitting on the plane with friends and family.
Ryanair said the average ticket price rose 50 per cent to £36 last year, reflecting mounting pressure from rising fuel costs.
And it made an extra £20 per passenger through so-called additional revenue, such as checking luggage.
The Dublin-based company said while demand for European short-haul flights remains down on 2019 levels, appetites remain “robust” as the main holiday season approaches.
Ryanair said it would operate its ‘biggest schedule ever’ – some 3,000 flights a day in the summer – with top destinations such as Italy and Spain.
But it said those seeking the sun should plan ahead and book early to avoid soaring prices for last-minute flights.
‘Forwarding bookings and airfares currently in [summer] are strong and we continue to urge all customers to book early to avoid rising “close-in” prices,” said an airline spokesperson.
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Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary said the fuel bill will rise by more than £869m over the coming year due to continued high prices – meaning further price increases for flyers in the coming months.
Analysts from Peel Hunt said the estimated fuel bill was £350m more than expected, but said strong holiday demand would offset some of this pain for the airline.
And other experts said Ryanair’s numbers show how consumers are likely to go on holiday, despite continued pressure on their wallets.
Victoria Scholar, Head of Investment at Interactive Investor, said: “Following the challenges of the pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, both of which weighed heavily on passenger traffic, Ryanair delivered an impressive full year result thanks to a recovery in demand and accidental fuel hedging.
Despite cost-of-living pressures that have hurt discretionary spending, individuals and households appear to be prioritizing their summer vacation.”
Ryanair forecasts further growth in passenger numbers in the year to March 2024, hoping to carry 185 million passengers over the course of the 12 months. The numbers reflect an optimistic run of results from rival airlines in recent weeks.
Last week Easyjet reported booming demand, with boss Johan Lundgren saying travel is still “the number one priority” for many households.
British Airways owner IAG – which also owns Aer Lingus – also said there were “healthy advance bookings” for the summer.
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