Ryanair reported a jump in passenger levels today in a sign that low-cost carriers are managing to weather the cost-of-living crisis.
Figures published today show that the low-cost airline carried 11.5 million passengers in December, 21 per cent up on last year’s levels. Numbers were also up on November’s 11.2 million travellers.
Load factor – the percentage of available seating capacity that has been filled with passengers – also increased by 11 per cent, going up to 92 per cent of 2019 levels.
Following a stronger than expected third quarter, the low-cost carrier has raised its profit guidance for the whole FY23 to between €1.32bn (£1.16bn) and €1.42bn (£1.25bn).
Ryanair’s share price closed up 2.51 per cent rising to €12.85.
Commenting on the results, aviation analyst Sally Gethin told City A.M. the data was not surprising as the Dublin-listed carrier was on the “fittest airlines going into the pandemic.”
“Ryanair did not haemorrhage crews and pilots like some other airlines, which gave Ryanair a head-start when travel returned, and survived the summer chaos intact by operating from smaller regional airports,” Gethin added.
Danni Hewson, a financial analyst at AJ Bell, said the numbers had “perked up investor ears” despite the passenger stats coming in slightly below expectations.
“After a torrid few years for the travel sector, planes are finally filling up to profitable levels. And despite niggling concerns about how the cost-of-living crisis might impact holiday decisions this year, Wizz Air and EasyJet have soared to the top of the FTSE 250 gainers today with Jet2 and IAG also enjoying those clear blue skies,” Hewson said.
Exceptional summer traffic, which reached a 16.9 million peak in August, has driven Ryanair’s €1.37bn (£1.20bn) half-year earnings, positioning the low-cost carrier ahead of most of its competitors.
Chief executive Micheal O’Leary said previously that Ryanair would grow stronger in a recession, as more people shy away from the expensive fares put forward by rivals.
“People in a recession will get much more price sensitive,” O’Leary told journalists in late August. “We will see a much larger number of people trading down from British Airways and Easyjet.”
Ryanair’s passenger data comes after rival low-cost Wizz Air yesterday reported a 50 per cent increase in passenger numbers, carrying 4.18 million travellers over the past month.