Ryanair shares soar on UK deal hopes

Ryanair shares soar on UK deal hopes

By Geoff Percival

Ryanair shares jumped by more than 4% as the airline said it is seeing record levels of bookings and no negative impact on customer demand from Brexit uncertainty.

The airline’s chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs said the company saw the busiest day of website traffic in its history this week and has not seen demand from British or other European consumers damaged by Brexit.

“The demand that’s out there is really, really strong. The European consumer, the British consumer just continues to book,” said Mr Jacobs.

Ryanair’s chief executive Michael O’Leary has in the past warned that a disorderly Brexit could ground flights for a number of weeks after the UK leaves at the end of March, but after reassurances on flying rights provided by the EU last week, that is no longer a risk, said Mr Jacobs.

“If we’re in a no-deal Brexit situation, flying will be fine,” he said.

The action Ryanair will have to take if there’s no deal will be to comply with EU ownership rules. Once the UK is no longer part of the EU, the 20% of Ryanair shares owned by British investors will be treated differently, saud Mr Jacobs.

He repeated the airline’s plan of restricting voting rights for UK shareholders, saying Ryanair’s board and the EU had already approved the plan.

Jacobs also said that Ryanair is not interested in buying UK regional carrier Flybe, which is expected to be sold and broken up.

Ryanair’s comments mirror those of its UK rival Easyjet, which on Tuesday said that it has no current interest in Flybe and is well-prepared for the UK leaving the EU, even without a deal. Easyjet said this week that Brexit negotiations are not hurting its sales at present.

Analysts have suggested Ryanair could still be a significant beneficiary from a Flybe carve-up, with certain landing slots — at Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Amsterdam — likely to be attractive to it.

- Additional reporting Reuters

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