Ryanair trims profit forecast after online travel agent row

Ryanair trims profit forecast after online travel agent row
A Ryanair plane on a runwayGetty Images

Ryanair has cut its profit expectations for the year to the end of March, after some online travel agents stopped selling its flights.

The airline reduced fares to fill seats in December after it said sites including Booking.com, Kiwi and Kayak suddenly removed its flights.

Ryanair said it expected an after-tax profit of up to €1.95bn, down from its forecast of up to €2.05bn in November.

The airline also blamed an increase in fuel bills.

Online agents row

Europe’s largest airline by passenger numbers blamed the fall in its profit predictions on a move which saw online travel agents remove the airline from their listings in early December.

Ryanair’s boss Michael O’Leary described Booking.com, Kiwi and Kayak as “pirates” at the time and said the move would increase the number of empty seats on its planes. The airline dropped prices in response.

The company has been in a long-running dispute with online booking sites, after the airline launched legal action in the US against Booking.com, owner Booking Holdings and its subsidiaries including Kayak, Agoda and Priceline.

In a statement on Monday, Ryanair said its revenue per paying passenger was weaker than the previous year. It blamed this on its flights being removed from online travel agents, despite its passenger numbers and fares being higher.

Ryanair said it expected an after-tax profit of between €1.85bn and €1.95bn for the year to the end of March, lower than a forecast of between €1.85bn and €2.05bn it made in November.

That would still beat its previous record annual after-tax profit of €1.45bn in 2018.

It follows a boom in profits for the airline in November, after it hiked prices.

The airline said passenger numbers rose 11% to a record 105.4 million in the six months to September, despite average fares rising by 24%.

Its chief financial officer Neil Sorahan told Reuters news agency on Monday that the impact of being removed from some online agents’ sites would be temporary and was already beginning to “fizzle out”.

The possibility of further delays in the delivery of new, more fuel-efficient Boeing 787 MAX 8 aircraft could also affect profits, the airline warned.

It added that its full-year result remained heavily dependent on “avoiding unforeseen adverse events (such as the Ukraine war, the Israel-Hamas conflict)”.

Ryanair’s shares fell 3.1% following the announcement.

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Source: bbc.co.uk

By David Ryckman