The latest trading update from Ryanair, covering the last three months of 2021, was always likely to show strong growth on a year-on-year basis given the comparative quarter saw some of the tightest Covid restrictions.
However, the numbers are not as good as they might have been had Omicron not intervened. With his typical tact Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary blamed ‘media hysteria’ about the new Covid variant for the impact on the business.
Ryanair, never usually known for its generosity to customers with O’Leary once suggesting people would have to spend a pound to spend a penny on the carrier’s planes, is being forced to offer discounted tickets in the near-term to fill its flights.
“However, the longer-term picture for pricing could be more favourable for Ryanair given the capacity which has come out of the market and likely pent-up demand for foreign travel over the summer, ” said AJ Bell’s Russ Mould.
“Ryanair’s model isn’t about great customer service in the traditional sense but about low fares and getting people where they want to go on time and that proposition has proved a winning one over the years.
“Ryanair has one of the strongest balance sheets in the industry and this means it is very well placed for a full recovery in the aviation sector, with the means to invest in new routes and potentially even to swoop on ailing rivals. Notably, it has raised its 2026 annual passenger target today.
“In the short term, Ryanair is making no secret of the risk of further Covid disruption to come, with investors at least able to have some confidence it can steer a flight path through any turbulence.”
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