Ryanair’s half-year profits soar to £1.2bn amid strong flight demand

Ryanair reported an increase in profit to a record €1.4bn (£1.2bn) for the first half of its financial year as the airline said it saw no decline in demand for air travel in winter after a record number of passengers in summer. .

The airline reported higher traffic at higher fares than the same period in 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic, the first time since the first Covid-19 lockdowns.

After-tax profits climbed to 1.37 billion euros in the six months to September 30, from a loss of 48 million euros for the same period last year. The turnover for the period tripled to 6.6 billion euros, since it transported 95.1 million passengers, against 39.1 million last year.

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Airlines across Europe have seen a surge in demand in recent months as countries eased pandemic-related travel restrictions and customers resumed air travel for business and holidays.

Ryanair had reported profits of 203 million euros between April and June, its first profitable spring since before the pandemic, but chief executive Michael O’Leary said the strength of the acceleration since then had been unexpected and that “term bookings in the strong Christmas look”.

It was able to charge passengers 14% more to travel compared to pre-pandemic, and said it would restore pay levels for its crew to pre-pandemic levels on December 1 – four months longer. sooner than expected.

“The strength of the recovery this summer has surprised us,” O’Leary told BBC Radio 4’s Today program on Monday. “We are seeing this huge pent-up demand for travel. We thought it would subside in September, October as winter approaches, but so far there are not many signs of this.

As world leaders gather in Egypt for the Cop27 climate conference, O’Leary said the biggest thing European governments can do to reduce airline carbon emissions is improve traffic control aerial to avoid wasting time in the air. However, activists and climate scientists have long argued that airlines themselves should pay higher taxes to reflect the pollution they create. Ryanair is one of the biggest corporate carbon polluters in Europe.

O’Leary said there were few signs of a drop in customer numbers in the UK, Ryanair’s main market, either from climate-conscious customers or people worried about an economic downturn. , which the Bank of England says has already begun. He said it was an “unusual situation” for the UK to enter a recession with little impact so far on the number of unemployed.

He added that the company was not worried about the impact of a recession on Ryanair’s position, comparing it to lower cost options such as the Aldi supermarket and furniture store Ikea, which he said would “always strengthen in times of recession”.

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