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Michael O'Leary says baggage rule change is causing a 'handling issue' and may be reviewed

Ryanair made a profit of €1.45 billion in the year to March.

Michael O'Leary was
Michael O'Leary was "pleased" with the results
Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

Updated 2.55 pm

RYANAIR CEO MICHAEL O’Leary has said that the company might have to re-examine new baggage rules despite positive feedback from customers.

The rules introduced in January mean that only customers who pay €5 for priority boarding can bring a second large bag on board to put in the overhead bin.

Customers who don’t pay for priority must hand their second bag over at the boarding gate to be put in the cargo hold.

Speaking in a video presentation at the announcement of yearly results today, Ryanair management said the new policy had been positive.

“It’s been very well received by our guests. Something that they actually wanted, it’s improved the boarding process and had a positive impact on performance, which is something that we’re really focused on this year,” CFO Neil Sorahan said.

O’Leary agreed that customers have liked the change but added that it was creating an issue with the number of bags being put in the cargo hold and may have to be reviewed.

“Although it is creating a handling issue, particularly at peak periods. Bank holiday weekends, summer peak periods. There are now many flights where we’re now having to put 100, 120 gate bags free of charge into the hold,” O’Leary said.

So if that continues to build it’s something we may have to look at again but there is no doubt both the feedback from the cabin crew and customers is that no one is struggling to find space on board in the bins or under the seats when they board the aircraft, which is good.

The yearly results showed strong profit growth at the airline despite a tumultuous year.

The figures showed that profits jumped 10% at Ryanair for 12 months to March.

In a financial statement public this morning, the airline said that it had increased passenger numbers to 130 million, an increase of 9% on the previous 12 months, while profits stood at €1.45 billion.

As well as the cancellation of thousands of flight from September onwards last year, Ryanair also faced the prospect of a pilots strike that was only just averted in December.

O’Leary said that they were “pleased” with the results that come amid a “weaker fare environment, rising fuel prices and the recovery from the September 2017 rostering management failure”.

Ryanair said that the average fare fell 3% to €39.40 last year, while new five-year pay deals were concluded with “most” of its pilots and cabin crew.

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O’Leary added that it “recovered quickly from the September 2017 pilot rostering failure”.

In terms of expenses related to the cancellations, the airline said that it spent €25 million on marketing and distribution related to the September/October flight cancellations.

Looking ahead, Ryanair said it is continuing to prepare for a hard Brexit and how it might affect business.

It said: “In these circumstances, it is likely that our UK shareholders will be treated as non-EU and this could potentially affect Ryanair’s licencing and flight rights.

Accordingly, in line with our articles, we intend to restrict the voting rights of all non-EU shareholders in the event of a hard Brexit, so that we can ensure that Ryanair is majority owned and controlled by EU shareholders at all times to comply with our licences.

Next year, Ryanair said it would be on the “pessimistic side of cautious”, with traffic expected to grow another 7% to 139 million. It added that it expects its profits to fall between €1.25 billion and €1.35 billion.

- With reporting by Rónán Duffy

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