Ryanair returns to profit on strong traffic recovery
Ryanair has reported a Q1 profit of €170m, compared to a prior year Q1 loss of €273m, but significantly below the €243m reported in Q1 FY20 pre-Covid.
Q1 traffic recovered strongly to 45.5m from 8.1m (+9% ahead of pre-Covid).
Easter bookings & fares badly damaged by the Russian invasion of Ukraine in Feb.
Sustainalytics ranked Ryanair the No.1 EU airline & No.2 World airline for ESG.
73 B737-8200 “Gamechangers” delivered ahead of peak S.22.
S.22 capacity on sale at 115% of S.19 (pre-Covid) levels.
FY24 fuel hedging increased to 30% (FY23: 80%).
Net debt reduced to €0.4bn at 30 Jun. (31 Mar.: €1.45bn).
Majority of A320 leases now extended by up to 4 years to 2028.
Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary, said: “Ryanair puts sustainability at the heart of our growth. This summer we are operating 73 new B737 “Gamechanger” aircraft, delivering 4% more seats yet burning 16% less fuel and cutting noise emissions by up to 40%. Passengers flying across Europe who switch to Ryanair (from high-fare legacy airlines) can reduce their environmental footprint by up to 50% per flight, proving that with Ryanair, growth can be coupled with more sustainability, leading to a better future for all our guests and their families.
We continue to work hard to accelerate the production of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). We are investing in our partnership with Trinity College Dublin’s Sustainable Aviation Research Centre, and in April we announced a partnership with Neste to power up to one third of all our flights from Schiphol Airport (AMS) with a 40% SAF blend. Ryanair hopes to power 12.5% of our flights using SAF and cut our CO₂ per pax/km by 10% to 60 grams by 2030. We are working with A4E, and the EU, to accelerate reform of the Single European Sky to improve ATC efficiency and reduce flight delays, which will substantially reduce fuel consumption, CO₂ emissions and flight delays.
In April, Sustainalytics ranked Ryanair the No.1 airline in Europe (No.2 globally) for ESG performance. Building on this achievement, in June we submitted Ryanair’s commitment letter to SBTi and will work with them over the next 2 years to verify our ambitious targets. Today, we launch our updated (2022) “Aviation with Purpose” sustainability report highlighting ambitious environmental and social targets over the coming years and mapping out Ryanair’s path to net carbon zero by 2050.
Our growth plans to 2026 will see Ryanair create over 6,000 well paid jobs for highly skilled aviation professionals across Europe. Over the next 3 years, we plan to expand our state-of-the-art training centres, investing over €100m in 2 more, high skills, training facilities (one on the Iberian Peninsula, and one in CEE). This summer we take delivery of the first of 8 new CAE full flight simulators (value over $80m). We continue to invest heavily in our engineering and maintenance teams and recently announced a new maintenance hangar facility in Malta, in addition to newly opened hangars in Kaunas (Lithuania) and Shannon (Ireland). These in-house facilities enable us to create cadet and apprenticeship opportunities for school leavers, bringing through the next generation of highly skilled aviators and aircraft maintenance professionals.
Following the beginning of the post-Covid recovery in air travel this Spring, we moved quickly with our Trade Unions to negotiate accelerated pay restoration agreements, so that we can restore previously agreed pay cuts with all our people as soon as our business returns to pre-Covid levels. To date, accelerated pay restoration agreements have been agreed with Unions representing over 80% of our pilots and approx. 70% of our cabin crews across Europe. We hope to conclude agreements with the small remaining balance in the near future. We and our Trade Union partners, are committed to completing the restoration of these agreed pay cuts, which enabled Ryanair and our Union partners to minimise job losses during the Covid-19 pandemic, at a time when our competitor airlines cut thousands of high skilled jobs.
In Q1, our Customer Panel held their latest meeting at Ryanair’s Lab in Madrid. Building on their feedback, Labs will introduce further service improvements over the coming months, including auto check-in and airport express to facilitate faster journeys through airports. While CSAT scores dipped this quarter, due to the impact of ongoing ATC delays on punctuality and lengthy airport security wait times, we still recorded a strong 83% rating (with crew friendliness coming in at over 90%).
To facilitate orderly NED succession, Julie O’Neill will not seek re-election at the upcoming AGM and has decided to retire from the Board in Sept. Our Chairman, Stan McCarthy, Board colleagues and management thank Julie for 9 years of stellar service to Ryanair. Róisín Brennan will take over as Chair of Remco when Julie departs in September.
OP. PERFORMANCE & GROWTH:
Our decision to work with our unions and agree pay cuts to minimise job losses (and keep crews current) throughout the 2 years of Covid was vindicated in recent months, as many European airlines, airports, and handling companies struggled to restore jobs that were cut during the pandemic. Ryanair seems unusual among the major EU airlines in Summer 22, insofar as we are fully crewed, despite operating at 115% of our pre-Covid capacity. Our business, our schedules and our customers are being disrupted by unprecedented ATC 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.
Over the past 2-years, numerous airlines went bankrupt and many legacy carriers (incl. Alitalia, TAP, SAS and LOT) only survived by significantly reducing their fleets and passenger capacity, while receiving multi-billion-euro State Aid packages. These structural capacity reductions have created enormous growth opportunities for Ryanair to deploy our new, fuel efficient, B737 Gamechangers and our market share has increased significantly across major markets in Europe. With Boeing scheduled to deliver over 50 more Gamechangers ahead of S.23, we continue to recruit and train substantial numbers of pilots, cabin crew and engineers. Approx. 50% of S.23 capacity is now on sale and we recently announced a new base in Belfast Intl. (S.23), a 4th based aircraft in Venice (W.22) and the commencement of flights from Bologna-Forli (W.22). Thanks to our 210 B737 order book, and available fleet capacity, the Ryanair Group expects to grow from 149m (pre-Covid) passengers to over 225m p.a. by FY26.
Q1 FY23 BUSINESS REVIEW:
Revenue & Costs
Q1 scheduled revenues increased 720% to €1.58bn. While traffic recovered strongly from 8.1m to 45.5m passengers (at a 92% load factor), Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in Feb. damaged Easter bookings and fares. As such, ave. fares were down 4% on the same quarter pre-Covid. Ancillary revenue continues to perform strongly, as traffic builds, delivering over €22.50 per passenger. Total revenues increased by 600% to €2.6bn.
While sectors increased by almost 330% and traffic rose 460%, operating costs rose just 250% to €2.38bn (incl. a significant 560% increase in fuel to €1bn), driven by lower variable costs such as airport & handling, ownership & maintenance and improved fuel burn as 73 Gamechangers entered the fleet ahead of peak S.22 (offset by the higher cost of jet fuel and route charges). Lower costs, coupled with higher load factors, saw (ex-fuel) unit cost per passenger drop to €30.
Our FY23 fuel requirements are 80% hedged (65% jet swaps at $63bbl and 15% caps at $78bbl) and our FY24 hedging has increased to 30% at approx. $92bbl. Carbon credits are over 90% hedged for FY23 at €55 (well below the current spot price of c.€90). This hedge position helps insulate Ryanair against the spiralling cost of fuel, and provides Ryanair with a significant competitive advantage, particularly into W.22.
Following a recent review of B737NG op. lease opportunities and Boeing’s failure to agree competitive pricing on a new aircraft order, the Group decided instead, to extend most of our Lauda A320 leases. This process, which is close to completion, will see these leases extended by up to 4 years (until 2028), locking in material rent savings, enhance operational efficiency and facilitate growth opportunities over the coming years.
Balance Sheet & Liquidity
Ryanair’s balance sheet is one of the strongest in the industry with a BBB (stable) credit rating (S&P and Fitch). Net debt at 30 June fell to €0.4bn (€1.45bn at 31 Mar.), and over 90% of the Group’s fleet of B737s are unencumbered. Despite peak capex this year and next, we still expect to improve the balance sheet to a broadly zero net debt position over the next 2 years. The strength of our balance sheet ensures that the Group is well positioned to exploit the many growth opportunities that exist in a post-Covid Europe.
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 Nov., and the Ukraine invasion in Feb., 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 FY23.
While there are clear signs of pent-up demand, bookings remain closer-in than was the norm (pre-Covid) at this time of year. We have limited visibility into the second half of Q2 and almost zero visibility into H2, when we are typically loss making. At this time, Q2 ave. fares are tracking ahead of peak S.19 (pre-Covid) levels by a low double digit percentage. Ryanair plans to grow FY23 traffic to 165m (+11% on pre-Covid traffic) and will pursue its load active, yield passive strategy to achieve this growth. Despite being one of the best hedged airlines in Europe, high oil prices will lead to increased costs on our 20% unhedged fuel for the remainder of FY23. Given our later booking profile, the lack of visibility, volatile oil prices, potential Covid, geopolitical and supply chain risks, it is too soon to provide meaningful FY23 PAT guidance at this time. We hope to be in a better position to do so at the half year results in Nov. but, as our experience with Omicron last Nov. and Ukraine in Feb. shows, any guidance is subject to a very rapid change from unexpected events which are well beyond our control during what remains a very strong but still fragile recovery.”