Ryanair, Europe’s biggest low fares airline, today announced full year net
profit after tax of €522.8m, down 8% from
€569.3m last year. Traffic
grew 3% to 81.7m passengers. Revenue per passenger was flat, as strong
ancillary revenue growth offset a 4% drop in average fares. Excluding fuel,
sector length adjusted unit costs fell by 3%. Separately, Reuters reports
Ryanair will commence services to the United States in 2019.
During the year Ryanair changed course to improve
its very poor market reputation by removing irritations to customers on hand
luggage, improving the online experience and introducing some flexibility on
Michael O'Leary, CEO, called the drop in profit "disappointing," but said in
that actions taken since September drove traffic growth in the second half and
helped to fill planes.
Ryanair said profit should recover this year to
€580m to €620m, though visibility for the winter months is poor when it usually
incurs losses. Fares are expected to rise 4% in the current year.
Reuters reports that Ryanair plans to offer flights
to the United States by 2019 and will lure long-distance passengers with very
cheap prices, Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung
reported, citing chief executive Michael O'Leary.
"We will start with this as soon as we get the planes," O'Leary told the Sunday
newspaper in an interview.
New aircraft are currently too expensive and out of stock due to heavy orders by
Gulf airlines such as Emirates, he said.
Tickets for US -bound flights could be sold at a net price of €10, excluding
extra costs for luggage, food and entertainment, O'Leary said, insisting that
the offer was not a marketing stunt to grab public attention.
"We have a finished business plan (for long-distance routes) in the drawer," he
Reuters says competition among European discount carriers is intensifying, with
Norwegian Air offering long-distance flights and EasyJet adding planes. Ryanair
said last month it was planning to expand at Cologne airport.