Ryanair strategy: Tech meltdown unlikely, says airline

Ryanair is confident of not suffering the kind of technology meltdown that hit British Airways last weekend, causing the cancellation of hundreds of flights and a likely huge compensation bill for inconvenienced passengers.

Ryanair strategy: Tech meltdown unlikely, says airline

“We’re not immune, we’re not complacent, but we don’t see it happening,” said Ryanair’s chief commercial officer David O’Brien, adding that the failure related to features of BA’s IT systems that Ryanair doesn’t share.

He was speaking on the back of a strong set of annual results showing Ryanair grew post-tax profits, for the 12 months to the end of March, by 6% to nearly €1.32bn.

Revenue was up 2% to €6.65bn, earnings per share rose 14% to €1.05 and passenger numbers grew by 13% to 120m.

Earnings were within the airline’s guidance range, despite turbulent market conditions which have led to profit warnings from some of its peers, and has “cautiously” forecast current year net profit of between €1.4bn and €1.45bn, while average fares are likely to fall by a further 5%-7%, due partly to a weaker sterling.

While Brexit is Ryanair’s chief challenge — the airline has warned that it may have to stop selling UK flights from the end of 2018 if Britain and the EU fail to agree an aviation deal — the budget airline will counter any UK hit by bulking up existing bases around Europe.

Regarding much-mooted long haul feeder flight/connectivity deals — Ryanair has been linked with tie-ins with Norwegian Air, Aer Lingus, and Tap Portugal — Mr O’Brien said agreements are being slowed by technical details, but at least one should be in place by the end of the year.

Ryanair’s newly launched long-haul online booking arrangement with Spanish carrier Air Europa has already proved a success and has yielded at least 10 similar requests from other airlines, but is currently being viewed as “an experiment” by Ryanair rather than a definite new business avenue.

Regarding any possibility of Ryanair still launching its own transatlantic service, Mr O’Brien said such a move is firmly no longer on the table and the subject hasn’t taken up “a nanosecond” of time at board meetings as there remains “a lot to be going on with in Europe”.

Ryanair could buy up to 600 new planes from Boeing to boost its fleet over the next 15 years, but all planes will be used for new and existing European routes only, added Mr O’Brien.

“As competitor airlines undergo deep restructuring, we are aware of the need to have additional short haul aircraft to respond quickly as these unique growth opportunities arise,” he said.

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