European low-cost megacarrier Ryanair is warning of Easter strikes and has renewed calls for clarity for the aviation industry on Brexit.
The carrier overcame roster problems that saw it cancel thousands of flights over winter to post a 12 per cent rise in profit for the third quarter ending December 31 even as fares fell 4 per cent to just €32 per customer.
“Following our pilot rostering failure in September, the painful decision to ground 25 aircraft ensured that punctuality of our operations quickly returned to our normal 90 per cent average,’’ chief executive Michael O’Leary said in the results announcement.
“Our AGB customer service program, coupled with 4 per cent lower fares, stimulated 6 per cent traffic growth to 30.4m at an industry leading 96 per cent load factor.”
O’Leary, who remains worried about the impact of Brexit and has warned that the UK government continues to underestimate to the likelihood on disruptions on UK flights, described the airline’s outlook for the remainder of 2018 as “cautious”.
Ryanair has called for a UK-EU bilateral air services agreement to be negotiated before the airline publishes its summer, 2019 schedules in mid-2018. It has also applied to the UK Civil Aviation Authority fir a UK air operator’s certificate.
O’Leary warned negotiations with pilots’ unions, the first in the airline’s history, were expected to produce localised disruptions and adverse publicity.
“In certain jurisdictions unions representing competitor airlines will wish to test our commitment to our low cost, high pay/high productivity model to disrupt our operations,’’ he said. “We are fully prepared to face down any such disruption if it means defending our cost base or our high productivity model.”
He later told The Irish Independent he believed disruptions were inevitable.
“I think, particularly, some of these unions will be trying to do something around Easter week,” he said. “We are geared up for that and ready for it.”
On the plus side, O’Leary said the airline expected full-year fiscal 2018 traffic to grow 8 per cent to 130m and fares to fall 3 per cent.
And while the airline had no visibility on fares in financial year 2019, O’Leary said he did not share the optimism of competitors and market commentators for rises in the summer.