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Michael O'Leary hits out at 'unprecedented handling delays' amid Ryanair summer recovery

The airline hit profits of €170 million for the three months to June.

RYANAIR CEO MICHAEL O’Leary has hit out at “unprecedented air traffic control and airport handling delays” as the airline announced huge passenger increases this year. 

The airline said it returned to profit in the first quarter of this year as demand jumped on the travel sector’s nascent recovery from the Covid pandemic.

Net profit hit €170 million in its first quarter or three months to June, the Dublin-based carrier said in a statement.

That contrasted sharply with a net loss of €273 million a year earlier, when it continued to be hit by Covid travel restrictions.

Traffic increased more than five-fold to 45.5 million passengers with O’Leary saying that its capacity this summer was 115% of the pre-Covid period. 

However, Ryanair’s performance still fell short of its pre-pandemic net profit of €243 million in the first quarter of its 2019/2020 financial year.

“While traffic recovered strongly… Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February damaged Easter bookings and fares,” said group CEO Michael O’Leary.

He also warned of ongoing threats to the sector’s fragile outlook.

Global aviation is still in recovery mode from the deadly Covid pandemic, which ravaged travel demand, grounded planes and sparked sector-wide losses.

“Our business, our schedules and our customers are being disrupted by unprecedented air traffic control and airport handling delays, but we remain confident that we can operate almost 100% of our scheduled flights, while minimising delays and disruptions for our guests and their families,” warned O’Leary.

While we remain hopeful that the high rate of vaccinations in Europe will allow the airline and tourism industry to fully recover and finally put Covid behind us, we cannot ignore the risk of new Covid variants in autumn 2022. 

“Our experience with Omicron last November, and the Ukraine invasion in February, shows how fragile the air travel market remains, and the strength of any recovery will be hugely dependent upon there being no adverse or unexpected developments over the remainder of this year.”

Ryanair was “insulated from the spiralling cost of fuel” with 80% of its kerosene costs hedged for the 2022/2023 year, it added.

Airlines bet against volatile oil prices by hedging, or taking a defensive position on futures markets.

© – AFP 2022 with reporting by Press Association 

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