Ryanair posted a record half-year profit of £1.2bn after holidaymakers flocked abroad over the summer.
The budget airline touted a “very strong post-Covid recovery,” with passenger numbers in the six months to the end of September rising 11 percent from pre-pandemic levels to 95.1 million.
And despite the 14 percent price increases, bookings remain “strong” from mid-October through the crucial Christmas season.
Record profits: Ryanair praised strong post-Covid recovery with passenger numbers in the six months to the end of September, up 11% from pre-pandemic levels
The results came when chief executive Michael O’Leary launched an attack on climate activists, including Greta Thunberg and the so-called “flight-shaming” movement.
The outspoken Irishman said environmentalists have had no influence on the company. He told the Telegraaf: ‘I don’t pay too much attention to it.
“There is very little evidence for the impact of flight-shaming or Greta Thunberg.
‘We live on an island in Ireland and the United Kingdom. The idea that we can just go by train at the weekend if there are no train strikes is a misconception.’
He said the aviation sector is responsible for 2 percent of Europe’s CO2 emissions and road transport is responsible for 27 percent, adding that “nobody believes we can eliminate road transport”.
Ryanair also brushed aside fears it will be hit by travelers cutting back as the cost of living rises.
O’Leary said concerns about the company are “highly exaggerated” and stressed that customers will not stop flying in a recession, but will “become more price sensitive”.
He compared the airline to Lidl, Aldi and Ikea, all of which have picked up crowds of rivals’ customers thanks to their low prices.
The 61-year-old said: ‘Millions of passengers are switching to fly with Ryanair for our lower prices, our industry-leading reliability and our greener, more fuel-efficient aircraft.
Willingness to travel remains high in Europe due to full employment, rising wages and two years of pent-up demand and accumulated savings while people were ‘locked up’ during Covid.
But Ryanair warned that the recovery for the rest of the year is “fragile” and could be hit by developments in Ukraine and new Covid variants.
It said it will flip to a loss in the six months to the end of March, but still make a full-year profit of up to £1bn. It represents a return to profit for the airline after successive years of losses.
Victoria Scholar, investment head of Interactive Investor, said: ‘While winter will be challenging for Ryanair, the company enjoyed an impressive summer performance thanks to the release of pent-up demand for international travel after the pandemic.
With a recession on the way, the continued reduction in business travel and the seasonally slower months ahead, winter is going to be a struggle.
But Ryanair remains optimistic about next year, both in terms of profitability and passenger numbers.’
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