Stansted: Ryanair air issues second profits warning in two months amid pressure on fares

A Ryanair plane coming in to land.

A Ryanair plane coming in to land. - Credit: PA

Low-cost airline Ryanair today warned its profits this winter will be hammered by downward pressure on fares.

The Dublin-based carrier, which is the largest operator out of Stansted Airport, expects a 9% drop in average fares for the current quarter and a possible decline of 10% in the three months after Christmas.

Issuing its second profits warning in as many months, Ryanair said its surplus for the year to March 31 may dip to as low as 500million euros (£423.3m), from the 569m euros achieved a year earlier.

For the period to September 30, the period when airlines make most of their money, Ryanair recorded profits growth of 1% to 602m euros (£509.7m).

Average fares fell by 2% in the half year, although revenues from areas such as the roll out of reserved seating, priority boarding and higher credit debit card fees grew by 22% to 713m

euros (£603.7m).

The airline also announced it will move to fully allocated seating on all Ryanair flights from February. Passengers who do not pay five euro (£4.23) to select their seats will be allocated them during the 24 hours prior to the date of departure. It said the policy was in response to customer feedback.

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Ryanair, which is led by chief executive Michael O’Leary, also cut its profits guidance in September, when it said it expected to make around 570m euros (£482.7m) for the current financial year.

It said today that passenger numbers in the six months to September 30 rose by 2% to 49 million, reflecting the opening of seven new bases and 116 additional routes. Its full-year target is for just under 81 million passengers.

In the face of weak market conditions, it has launched a number of “aggressive seat sales” in order to stimulate bookings across all markets.

This resulted in a 6% rise in October traffic although with pricing remaining weak due to competition and difficult economic conditions it expects it will have to promote low fare seat sales throughout the rest of this financial year.

Ryanair’s shares were down by more than 10% in Dublin, while rival easyJet fell 4% on London’s FTSE 100 Index. Tour operator Thomas Cook declined 2%.