Ryanair saw its first quarter profits fly past pre-pandemic levels to €663m (£572m) in the three months up to the end of June as it cashed in on soaring demand and rising ticket fares.
The budget carrier is currently operating its largest ever summer schedule and said passenger traffic rose 11 per cent to 50.4 million, with an average load factor – the percentage of available seats an an airline is able to sell – of 95 per cent.
Revenues also rose to €3.65bn (£3.1bn), up 40 per cent.
Continuing an accelerating trend in the sector and prompted by high demand, Ryanair said its ticket fares had risen 42 per cent year-on-year, with second quarter fares also expected to be “higher than the prior year… but by a low double digit percentage.”
Ryanair did acknowledge that some of the year on year comparisons have been inflated by a rebound in demand in eastern Europe, which was lower last year in the more immediate wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Michael O’Leary, Ryanair’s Chief Executive, said: “We are operating our largest ever summer schedule with over 3,200 flights and up to 600,000 passengers daily. We have opened 3 new bases in Belfast, Lanzarote and Tenerife and over 190 new routes, further growing our no.1 or no. 2 share in the Italian, Polish, Spanish and UK markets.”
Despite the bumper profits – nearly quadruple those of the prior year -the Dublin-headquartered firm lowered its passenger forecast for the year ahead to 183.5 million, down from 185 million, citing Boeing 737 delivery delays in the coming spring and autumn.
O’Leary said “Boeing has suffered multiple supply chain challenges, causing repeated delivery delays. We have worked closely with Boeing to minimise these delays, and the disruption to our schedules and traffic targets.”
The results come today as airlines move into the busiest period of a critical summer season, which has seen extraordinary levels of demand and a string of deals for new aircrafts.
A post-pandemic dash to go abroad, despite cost-of-living concerns, has helped major carriers close in on pre-pandemic profits, with Ryanair’s first quarter results a strong indicator of the upcoming aviation boom.
In May, O’Leary’s outfit posted record full-year profits of $1.57bn (£1.26bn) and forecast passenger numbers rising to 185 million by the end of 2023.
This had followed a collosal $40bn (£30bn) order for 300 Boeing-737 Max, the largest ever placed for by an Irish company for US manufactured goods.
Airlines have also cashed in on rising ticket fares as a result of the surge in bookings and costs of switching to greener fuels, with some in the industry forecasting the end of the era of low-cost flying.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said in June that it expects fares to keep rising for the next 10-15 years.