Ryanair falls to loss in third quarter as fares fall

Ryanair posts loss amid winter competition

The airline said it flew 32.7 million customers in the quarter, an increase of 8%, and recorded revenue of €1.53 billion - up almost 10%.

Chief executive Michael O'Leary described the third-quarter loss of €19.6m (£17.1m) as "disappointing", but said it was entirely due to a 6% decline in air fares.

Ryanair said, however, the loss did not take into account the 46.5 million euro it spent on purchasing the remaining 25% of budget airline Laudamotion.

Stronger ancillary revenue growth, of 26 per cent to €557 million for the quarter, was again offset by higher fuel, staff and Brexit preparation costs.

In the quarter to 31 December 2018 passenger numbers grew eight per cent to 32.7m and revenue grew nine per cent to €1.53bn.

As part of the shake up, Mr O'Leary will act as group chief executive of Ryanair until at least 2024.

The low-priced carrier also said that chairman David Bonderman, who has been in the role since 1996, will be replaced by Stan McCarthy in summer 2020 and that Kyran McLaughin, senior independent director, had agreed to step down.

It said that in order to ensure a smooth succession, Stan McCarthy who joined the Ryanair board in May 2017, will take up the position of Deputy Chairman from April, and will transition to chairman in summer 2020.

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The airline's director Kyran McLaughlin also said that he would not stand for re-election at the company's September 2020 AGM.

"We've seen commentary from some low cost competitors with very few bookings in place for summer 2019 promising enormous fare growth", O'Leary said.

Ryanair slipped into the red at the end of last year after intense competition forced it to cut fares across Europe, and reiterated that Brexit could drag down full-year profits.

The firm said recent falls in oil prices would allow loss-making rivals to survive longer, maintaining excess capacity in Europe as others like Ryanair add more and more planes.

On Brexit, Michael O'Leary said that the risk of a no-deal departure remains worryingly high.

Ryanair has come under pressure recently to shake-up its leadership, with 30 per cent of shareholdings voting against Bonderman's re-appointment as chair at the company's annual meeting in September.

The airline today also announced a restructuring of the group which will have four airline subsidiaries.

Ryanair's new group structure will be similar to that of British Airways-owner IAG, with four airline subsidiaries - the main Ryanair carrier led out of Dublin, its Austrian and Polish airlines Laudamotion and Ryanair Sun, and Ryanair UK - each led by their own CEOs and management teams.

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