Business Irish

Wednesday 20 June 2018

Ryanair feels jet lag as passenger growth slows to a three-year low

Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary says that the airline can retain pricing advantage even with increases in pilot pay to keep talent. Photo: PA
Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary says that the airline can retain pricing advantage even with increases in pilot pay to keep talent. Photo: PA
Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

Ryanair's passenger numbers grew at the slowest pace in three years last month after the carrier cancelled thousands of flights because of a failure to roster enough pilots.

The customer count rose by 8pc to 11.8 million, Ryanair said yesterday.

That's the smallest rise since October 2014, when the Dublin-based company posted a 5pc gain.

The October increase is also the first time growth has slowed to a single-digit percentage since 2014.

The number of additional passengers was also the lowest since March, though still came in at 900,000.

The airline has been adding passengers in part by acquiring aircraft and laying on new routes.

Ryanair announced on September 15 that it was scrapping 2,100 flights as it battled with a rostering "mess up".

Since then a further 18,000 flights have been cancelled, with the effects lasting well into next year.

As a result of the fisaco, Ryanair's net income for the three months to the end of Septmeber suffered a rare decline. The Irish operator has paid out €25m in refunds to more than 700,000 passengers hit by the cancellations, it said on Tuesday, when it announced financial results that were ultimately well received by the markets.

CEO Michael O'Leary said that the company can increase pilot pay in order to keep and attract crew, and still retain a pricing advantage over competitors.

Flight cancellations means the total number of passenger carried in 2017 is now expected to come in two million short of the original 131 million goal, while next year's passenger forecast has been cut by four million to 138 million.

Shares of Ryanair were down slightly at €17.25 each in Dublin following publication of the October traffic numbers, after gaining strongly early in the week. (Additional reporting Bloomberg)

Irish Independent

Business Newsletter

Read the leading stories from the world of Business.

Also in Business