Ryanair is hoping to grow passenger numbers to around 185 million – which would be a 10% annual increase – in its current financial year, after posting a bumper set of financial results for its latest year.
That is despite the prospect of a marked increase in average air fares over the coming months.
Over the 12 months to the end of March, Ryanair saw passenger numbers grow 74%, year-on-year, to 168.6 million people. Load factor – which measures exactly how full planes are – totalled 93% for the year, versus 82% in the previous year.
Ryanair’s new set of financial results show the airline group boosted revenues by 124% to just under €11bn, while it returned to full-year profit with a net after-tax profit of €1.43bn after a Covid-induced net loss of €355m in the preceding 12-month period.
The positive results were helped by a strong Easter booking period and Ryanair improving its market share across most of its European markets; particularly Ireland, Italy, Poland, and Spain.
Ryanair group chief executive Michael O’Leary said that the company is “cautiously optimistic” that revenue in its current year – up to March 2024 – will grow enough to cover a fuel bill that will be €1bn higher due to rising oil prices and still deliver a “modest” year-on-year profit increase.
Mr O’Leary said the positive guidance remains “heavily” dependent on the avoidance of adverse events such as a delay in the delivery of new aircraft and the ongoing war in Ukraine.
“Our balance sheet is one of the strongest in the industry with a BBB+ credit rating and €4.7bn gross cash at year-end, despite an €850m bond repayment in March 2023. Almost all the Group’s B737 fleet are owned and 99% are unencumbered, which significantly widens our cost advantage, as interest rates and leasing costs continue to rise for competitors,” Mr O’Leary said.