The heatwave in Ireland and the UK has hit Ryanair’s annual forecast, with the company admitting there has been a decline in bookings in Ireland and most of the UK as people stay at home.
Ryanair’s chief operating officer Micheal Cawley said this is a crucial business period for airlines in Europe and any impact on operations can have a significant effect.
“This is a very busy time of the year. Anything that happens at this time of the year is significant. I wouldn’t put a percentage on it, but it is enough to say that we are not going to upgrade our earnings. The weather is something we didn’t expect,” he said.
Ryanair maintained its forecast for earnings of €570- €600m in its full year to end-Mar 2014.
Ireland and England have been particularly hit as people flock to the coast instead of to airports to take their annual holidays. Mr Cawley said there had been a noticeable decline, resulting in lower fares due to lower demand.
The airline reported that their first-quarter profit dropped 21% on higher fuel costs, and Easter falling earlier than normal. Its average fares fell 4% due to the timing of Easter and the impact of air traffic control strikes.
The company met their target for the first quarter of €78m due in a large part to an increase in so-called “ancillary” charges, particularly the roll-out of advance booking for seats across the network, allowing passengers to bypass an unruly rush at departure gates.
Income from baggage and reserved seating rose 25%. Chief financial officer Howard Millar said: “We’ve been pleasantly surprised with the uptake — passengers want reserved seats.”
Mr Cawley said that it would be a mistake to say that they have changed their business model by adding “frills”. He said that unlike other airlines where people who don’t bring any luggage, subsidise those who do, with Ryanair you simply get what you pay for.
The success of the model has seen the airline grow rapidly in recent years.
The only thing currently slowing growth at the airline is a shortage of planes while they await the delivery of 175 Boeing 737-800s.
“Yesterday, we had 303 aircraft in the air out of 305. So we can’t increase flights unless we shorten the schedule length, but people still want their flights to Tenerife. Any growth that comes will be in the winter schedule,” he said.
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