Strikes and terror to hit Ryanair for up to €40m
Ryanair is likely to have lost between €30m and €40m during its fourth quarter as a result of the Brussels terrorist attacks and air traffic control strikes, double the estimate chief executive Michael O'Leary gave last month.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, Mr O'Leary said that Ryanair had cancelled about 550 flights during its fourth quarter, which runs from January to March, primarily as a result of air traffic control (ATC) strikes in France, Spain and Germany.
Ryanair redirected flights that would normally have gone to Brussels' main airport at Zaventem to Charleroi following the terror attacks. Flights to Zaventem have now resumed.
"The Brussels bombings took place in mid-March, which was very close to Easter, but in actual fact the Easter traffic was robust and held up very well," said Mr O'Leary.
He said the impact of the bombings is likely to persist until the end of June, as people continue to postpone travel.
"We think that will last maybe through the first quarter and then settle down again. So it's very hard to isolate how much the Brussels thing cost, but Brussels and the ATC strikes have definitely taken €30m or €40m off the fourth quarter numbers."
Ryanair releases its fourth quarter and full-year results next Monday. The airline previously estimated that it will have generated profits of about €1.2bn in the 12 months to the end of March this year.
That compares to the €867m profit it made in the previous financial year, which was a record.
Ryanair has been actively campaigning for the European Commission to tackle air traffic control strikes in the region.
Last month, it was forced to cancel over 100 flights as a result of strikes in France.
It was the 44th time in seven years that air traffic controllers there had walked out.
The airline said that the action demonstrated how a "tiny French union" was able to "hold Europe's skies to ransom".
Ryanair called on the European Commission to introduce measures that would require French ATC unions to engage in binding arbitration instead of strikes to resolve their claims, or to allow other air traffic controllers in Europe to manage flights over France during strikes.
Ryanair's passenger traffic jumped 10pc to 9.9 million passengers in April, despite ATC strikes that were also held in Greece and Belgium, however.