Ryanair shelves Cork/Kerry plans

Ryanair has shelved plans to increase its services at Cork and Kerry airports, citing high airport charges as the reason.

Speaking yesterday on the back of the airline’s latest quarterly results, Ryanair’s outgoing deputy chief Michael Cawley said the airline was no longer in talks with either airport, but remains open to suggestions on how it can grow at each.

He said that charges remained too high at the two locations, even though there was still potential for Ryanair to grow services significantly from both.

Ryanair reacted to the Government’s budget measure that axed the consumer travel tax by announcing an expansion of its services — including new routes out of Dublin, Shannon and Knock — most of which are set to begin in April.

The airline is promising to add 300,000 and 80,000 extra passengers at Shannon and Knock alone, and around one million per year at all Irish airports combined. However, it originally said that growth from Cork and Kerry would take longer to materialise and wouldn’t happen before next autumn, following the delivery of its first tranche of new aircraft.

Ryanair yesterday reported an after-tax loss of €35.2m for the three months to the end of December, the third quarter of its financial year.

Though down year-on-year from a profit of €18.1m, the loss was in line with market and company expectations, with Ryanair’s full-year profit guidance of €510m unchanged.

The airline’s chief executive Michael O’Leary said that the quarterly loss was down to a 9% fall in average fares and weaker sterling.

The three months also saw a marginal dip in revenue — from €969m to €964m, and a loss per share of 2.50c.

Ancillary revenues grew by 13% — driven by strong priority boarding and reserved seating sales — and passenger numbers rose by 6% year-on-year to 18.3m people.

The airline now expects slightly better full-year (for the 12 months to the end of March) passenger numbers, at around 81.5m.

The reiterated full-year profit guidance, a reduction in operating costs, a likely strengthening of consumer demand and the expectation that full-year yield declines won’t be as pronounced as first feared boosted the airline’s share price by nearly 7% yesterday.

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