Ryanair lines up record profits despite flight cancellation fiasco

Ryanair remains on track to land record annual profits, despite facing lower passenger growth and pilot costs of up to 100 million euro (£88 million) following its flight cancellation fiasco.

The budget airline stuck by its full-year profit guidance of between 1.40 billion euro (£1.23 billion) and 1.45 billion euro (£1.28 billion), but warned that passenger numbers would slow in the wake of the pilot rostering debacle.

SEE ALSO: Ryanair is breaking law over flight cancellations says aviation chief

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The Dublin-based firm said full-year traffic was now expected to decelerate from 131 million customers to 129 million after it grounded 25 aircraft.

Ryanair has been hit with fierce criticism after 700,000 customers suffered when the airline cancelled 20,000 flights stretching from September 2017 to March next year due to an error over pilot holiday rosters.

The low-cost carrier said efforts were now under way to increase pilot pay by a fifth after poor planning decisions had led to a "perfect storm" of pilot shortages.

It came as Ryanair gave an update on its half-year performance, with pre-tax profits climbing 11% to 1.293 billion euro (£1.139 billion), up from 1.168 billion euro (£1.029 billion) over the period last year.

The jump was driven by a strong Easter period, helping bolster customer numbers by 11% to 72.1 million.

Shares were up more than 6% to 16.84 euro in afternoon trading.

Chief executive Michael O'Leary said: "These strong H1 results reinforce the robust nature of Ryanair's low fare, pan-European growth model, even during a period which suffered a material failure in our pilot rostering function in early September."

Revenues picked up 7% to 4.425 billion euro (£3.899 billion) for the half year, as it added 80 new routes and drove down air fares by 5%.

However, it said costs in its "sales, marketing and other" bracket rose 30%, as it forked out 25 million euro (£22 million) to compensate customers.

Neil Wilson, ETX Capital's senior market analyst, said: "More passengers, lower fares and on course for another record profit - investors might be wondering what all the fuss was about in the wake of September's cancellation fiasco.

"But beneath the rising revenues and passengers there are concerns about rising labour costs that will affect Ryanair's unit cost advantage over peers."

Focusing on Brexit, the airline said the UK Government "continues to underestimate" the flight disruption triggered by uncertainty over Britain's exit from the European Union.

It added: "There remains a worrying risk of a serious disruption to UK-EU flights in April 2019 unless a timely UK-EU bilateral is agreed in advance of September 2018.

"We, like other airlines, need clarity on this issue before we publish our summer 2019 schedules in mid-2018 and time is running short for the UK to develop a bilateral solution."

Airlines have endured a turbulent period in recent months, with a string of European carriers - Monarch Airlines, Air Berlin and Alitalia - going bankrupt.

Ryanair said it was poised to capitalise on the pressures facing the wider industry by growing its presence in Germany and Italy and adding more aircraft to "take up any slack" created by the demise of Monarch.

Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: "The good news for consumers is that overcapacity in the European airline market has driven fares down, and Ryanair expects this trend to continue throughout the winter, so passengers can perhaps afford the extravagance of spending a few more pounds on a bit more leg room."

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The weirdest airline rules
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The weirdest airline rules

The rules of flying aren't as straightforward as you'd imagine and many of the strange laws that go beyond leaving your liquids and sharp objects at home could easily get you kicked off a plane.

Bad body odour, offensive T-shirts and having your tonsils removed could stop your from flying, while there are some odd items you never imagined carrying that will

Delta has no problem with passengers carrying antlers but says they "must be free of residue, the skull must be wrapped and the tips protected." It adds that they cannot exceed 115 inches or 100 lbs.
Thinking of becoming a flight attendant? Hawaiian Airlines isn't a fan of its staff being adventurous with their hair. It says: "Unacceptable hairstyles include, but are not limited to, extreme or unnatural colors (e.g., pink, purple), top-knots, dreadlocks, cornrows and Mohawks."
If you're planning on flying with Qantas and need to have your tonsils removed, you'll have to wait a lengthy three weeks before you're allowed to travel, according to the Herald Sun. With Japan Airlines, it's a two-week ban.
Delta states that you can be kicked off a flight "when the passenger's conduct creates an unreasonable risk of offense or annoyance to other passengers."
Emotional support animals range from dogs to pigs and even miniature horses but ferrets aren't allowed on flights. As Delta puts it, the airline won't accept "snakes, other reptiles, ferrets, rodents and spiders as Service Animals."
Airline obesity policies differ with some, including Alaska Airlines, requiring overweight passengers to purchase a second seat. British Airways passengers must be able to buckle their seatbelt and fully lower both armrests, otherwise they need to purchase a second ticket.
American Airlines states that the crew may refuse transport of passengers who "are clothed in a manner that would cause discomfort or offense to other passengers or are barefoot." Meanwhile, Virgin Atlantic says it refuses to transport any passenger "who is not wearing both top and bottom apparel." In 2017, a hen group was kicked off a Jet2 flight for wearing T-shirts with the phrase 'bitches on tour'.
Aside from the germs, there's another reason to keep your shoes on while flying. Some airlines including Delta say they "may refuse to transport or may remove passengers" if they are "barefoot".
A number of airlines, including American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines, can kick you off a flight for having an "offensive odour". In 2010, Air Canada removed a passenger from a flight to Montreal after they emitted what fellow travellers described as a "brutal" odour. In 2014, a French man was ordered off an American Airlines flight to Dallas when passengers complained about his body odour.
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