Bad weather sends Ryanair's figures into a nose-dive

Ryanair tends to report soaring figures. But a Eur10.3m loss suggests it's not above a little turbulence...

by Dave Waller
Last Updated: 10 May 2011
That’s how much the budget flyer lost in the final quarter of 2010 – after strikes and bad weather forced it to cancel 3,000 flights. According to boss Michael O’Leary, that compares to 1,400 cancellations in the whole of the previous financial year. No one likes to be grounded. As if that wasn’t enough, the airline also watched its fuel bill for the quarter shoot up by 37%.
Still, this is Ryanair we’re talking about, and it hasn’t become Europe’s largest low-cost carrier by letting a few overheads get in the way. There’s always a solution: namely squeezing more cash out of its punters. The cancellations were partly offset by a 15% rise in the average fare to 34 euros, largely down to the addition of new longer routes, and a 20% increase in sales of in-flight tat. Sorry, ancillary services.

Despite the dip, there was plenty of reason for good cheer in the Ryanair cockpit too. Passenger numbers were up 6%, a million more than the previous year, with revenues up 22%. O'Leary said the airline was on course to achieve full-year net profits in the top end of its forecast range of between Eur380m and Eur400m. Other airlines would kill for that kind of figure right now.

But we can’t help thinking that Ryanair would be doing even better if others weren’t out to put the kybosh on its ruses. Earlier this month, a Spanish court ruled it unlawful for the airline to charge passengers to have their boarding cards printed at the airport. The swines. The airline has dreamed up the idea that passengers must print out their boarding pass before arriving at the airport – or face a £40 ‘reissue fee’. Undeterred, the airline says it’s looking into more ways to raise extra cash. What next? Getting charged to use the cabin’s oxygen?

Anyone who’s been miffed at the nonsense you have to pay for nowadays will want to keep an eye on events over at Easyjet. Ryanair’s budget rival has been in a scrap with Servisair, an agent that supplies check-in staff, which has criticised the carrier for forcing its staff ‘to act like policemen’ when enforcing the increasingly strict rules over baggage allowance. Apparently the airline is so fervent with its audits and mystery passengers that Servisair staff have no choice but to pass that pain on down the line to the passengers.  

In one publicised case a punter complained after having to pay excess for two bags she’d already paid for, on a flight from Jersey to Liverpool, was then refused a refund when she complained to EasyJet of ‘rude and appalling treatment’. The airline has offered to pay her off in vouchers, but she called it ‘easily the worse customer service I've ever received’.

Rude and appalling? Surely they could charge extra for both of those…

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