- Profits grew by 13% to €569m.
- Traffic grew 5% to 79.3m (despite grounding up to 80 winter aircraft).
- 7 new bases – Chania (Greece), Eindhoven (Netherlands), Fez (Morocco),
Krakow (Poland), Maastricht (Netherlands), Marrakech (Morocco) & Zadar
- 217 new routes (y/e total over 1,600 routes).
- 15 new aircraft delivered (y/e fleet 305).
- 2nd special div. of €492m and €68m share buyback completed.
- 175 new aircraft order, delivery 2014 to 2018 (sub. to June 18 EGM approval).
Delivering a 13% increase in profits and 5% traffic growth despite high oil prices during a European recession is testimony to the strength of Ryanair’s ultra-low cost model. Fuel costs rose by over €290m, and now represent 45% of total costs. Excluding fuel, unit costs were up 3% due to excessive and unjustified increases in Italian ATC, Eurocontrol and Spanish airport fees. Ancillary revenues outpaced traffic growth, rising 20% to €1,064m or 22% of total revenue.
Growth – New Routes and Bases
This summer Ryanair opened 7 new bases, and more than 200 new routes as we continue our strategy of growing Europe’s largest passenger airline. However with 9 (net) additional aircraft and longer sectors, traffic growth this summer will be very modest at approx. 2%. By grounding fewer aircraft next winter we expect to deliver slightly faster H2 monthly growth which should result in overall traffic growth for the full year rising by more than 2m to 81.5m passengers.
Forward bookings on our new routes and bases this summer are ahead of expectations (albeit at modest yields) as competitor airlines continue to restructure and cut short-haul capacity. We expect growth opportunities for Ryanair to expand and improve for the foreseeable future.
Our new route teams continue to handle more growth opportunities than our current fleet expansion allows. Significant opportunities are opening up in Germany, Scandinavia and central Europe in particular, where Air Berlin, SAS and LOT continue to restructure. We are in active discussions with the new owners of Stansted Airport and the new management at Dublin Airport and while no agreements have yet been reached, if a competitive cost base emerges, then we could restart growth at one or other airports as early as September 2013.
We have also made offers to the Spanish airport monopoly AENA to reverse a significant proportion of its traffic declines over the past two years. In a country where youth unemployment runs at 50%, their policy of increasing airport fees, while traffic declined from 120m to 100m over the past two years is plainly ill- judged. As ever, Ryanair remains willing to exploit growth opportunities wherever airports provide attractive incentives to do so.
Market Share Gains
Ryanair continues to expand, making meaningful share gains in many of Europe’s largest markets. In addition to being the No. 1 passenger airline in Ireland, and Spain, we have in the last 12 months overtaken Alitalia and LOT to become Italy’s and Poland’s No. 1 airline, respectively. Ryanair believes that its unique low cost advantage will enable the airline to achieve a 20% share of the European short-haul market over the next 5 years, particularly given that many of Europe’s high fare incumbents are restructuring and cutting capacity.
New 175 Aircraft Order
Ryanair’s successful growth, allied to deep short-haul restructuring among many high fare competitors, gives us confidence that we can grow from 80m p.a. to over 100m passengers p.a. over the next 5 years. Our recent order for 175 firm B 737- 800 aircraft represents an enormous opportunity for shareholders as Ryanair returns to higher rates (5% p.a.) of traffic growth. We are pleased to have reached acceptable pricing with Boeing, and the controlled delivery programme from Autumn 2014 to end of 2018 will provide the opportunity to expand Ryanair’s fleet to over 400 aircraft and our traffic to over 100m p.a. Ryanair is now uniquely positioned to offer many of Europe’s airports sustained traffic growth in return for low cost, efficient facilities. I am confident that in time this new order will enable Ryanair to extend its traffic leadership over Europe’s airlines, and generate further returns for our shareholders.
We were disappointed that the European Commission in February 2013 decided to prohibit Ryanair’s third offer for Aer Lingus. It is bizarre that the EU can wave through BA’s offer for British Midland in Phase 1 with few remedies, yet months later reject Ryanair’s offer for Aer Lingus which was accompanied by a revolutionary remedies package delivering two upfront buyers to open competing bases in Dublin and Cork airports. We have no doubt that this was yet another politically motivated decision by Europe’s competition authority and it is inexplicable in the context of its stated policy of promoting European airline consolidation.
Having our third offer for Aer Lingus prohibited by the EU Commission on the grounds that “competition between Ryanair and Aer Lingus has intensified since 2007”, our shareholding is now the subject of an even more bizarre regulatory inquiry in the UK where the Competition Commission are reviewing our 61⁄2 year old minority stake in Aer Lingus on the basis that it may have “lessened competition” between Ryanair and Aer Lingus. Given that the UK Competition Commission has a legal duty of sincere co-operation with the EU, we believe they cannot make a contrary finding, and so this spurious and time wasting inquiry into a 61⁄2 year old minority stake between two Irish airlines, one of whom (Aer Lingus) has a tiny presence in the UK market should now be abandoned in the light of the EU Commission’s finding that competition between Ryanair and Aer Lingus has intensified.
In recent years high oil prices and competitor fuel surcharges have made Ryanair’s fares even more attractive to hard pressed European consumers. The combination of high oil prices, increasing competitor losses, together with a shortage of financing for weaker credits, will lead to continued EU consolidation and closures. Ryanair is 90% hedged for FY’14 at $980 per tonne (approx. $98 p.bl) and we have now extended our hedges into FY’15 with 25% of H1 hedged at $930 per tonne (approx. $93 p.bl). We hope to continue to make meaningful reductions in our oil costs into FY’15.
Ryanair’s balance sheet remains one of the strongest in the industry. Our aircraft which have been purchased at substantially discounted prices, represents a significant long term benefit for our shareholders. We have gross cash over €3.5bn and year-end net cash of €61m, despite having returned almost €500m to shareholders in November (€1.5bn over the past 5 years) via a second special dividend. We have also taken advantage of current low interest rates to secure almost 70% of our fleet financing all in at under 3% and we have completed our Capex hedging programme to the end of 2014 at Euro/Dollar exchange rate of 1.32.
We expect traffic in FY.14 to grow by 3% to 81.5m. Growth will be slower in H1 at approx. 2%, but rise to approx. 5% in H2 as we ground fewer winter aircraft (up to 60) compared to prior years. Unit costs will increase primarily due to rising oil prices, a 3% growth in sector length, and unjustified higher Eurocontrol and Spanish airport charges. Due to lower yields and higher fuel costs Q1 Net Profit will be lower than last year due to the timing of Easter (which boosted Q4 revenues) and its presence in the prior year Q1 comparable. With almost zero yield visibility into H2 and the EU wide recession, we expect that there will continue to be downward pressure on yields which will dampen full year profit growth. We expect modest yield and traffic growth for the full year to be partly offset by higher oil and Eurocontrol costs resulting in another year of profit growth in FY’14 which - subject to winter yield outturns - should increase to a range of between €570m to €600m”.
Ryanair Media Release