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Ryanair boss comments as airline reports record results, despite mass cancellations

London – 21 May 2018
1. SOUNDBITE (English) Michael O’Leary, Ryanair Chief Executive:

“There were three days of pilot disruption in December. It wasn’t even supported by our German pilots. The good news this morning is we were reporting 10 percent growth in profits, in a year when fares fell by 3 percent. So last year we cut our airfares by 3 percent, we reduced our baggage charges, we carried 9 percent more passengers and the profits are up. And we hope that will continue into next year. When a lot of our airline competitors are predicting their fares will rise, we think they be flat, we plan to keep fares down and keep people flying at lower than ever fares.”

++BLACK FRAMES++

2. SOUNDBITE (English) Michael O’Leary, Ryanair Chief Executive:

“We got a letter from the Irish pilots last week threatening that they would have a vote for strike action next week. We’ve written back to them to point out that they haven’t even replied to our letter of over a month ago. The dialogue with the pilots will continue. We’ve been very successful thus far in our recognition negotiations, we’ve signed up deals with the British pilots, with the Italian pilots, so you know there may be occasional disruptions during the summer but there won’t be a widespread pilot strike. We’ve just completed five year pay deals with our pilots, 20 percent pay increases, Ryanair captains are now earning between 120 and 220 thousand euros a year, even as we cut higher fares. And I think the challenge for us this year, particularly as oil prices rise, is how can we keep fares low, how can we carry another 10 million extra passengers this year, grow to maybe 138-139 million passengers, and keep bringing low fares and those on-time flights that people love us for.”

++BLACK FRAMES++

3. SOUNDBITE (English) Michael O’Leary, Ryanair Chief Executive:

“Well I mean we are going to cut our profits this morning, we’re guiding that our profits this, for the next 12 months, would be down about 10 percent because of higher pilot pay, higher oil prices, but keeping fares flat. And the challenge of Brexit is a real one. I mean you know we we hoped there would be a transition agreement. We hope to see progress being made by the UK government at the discussions with the EU in June. But there is a real risk that, of a hard Brexit I think in March 2019. I think the risk is being downplayed here in the UK. And the problem for aviation is we don’t have a fallback position. We can’t go back to WTO rules because aviation is not covered by WTO. So I think there is a real challenge facing the British government, there could be a disruption of flights in April 2019. We hope it won’t happen but there could, the flights could be grounded.”

++BLACK FRAMES++

4. SOUNDBITE (English) Michael O’Leary, Ryanair Chief Executive:

“Well again, it’s been, I mean the story has been extraordinarily badly misreported. I mean all we’ve done is taking those passengers, about 50 percent of our passengers choose a random seat or choose not to pay for reserve seat, that’s fine. They now can check in up to 48 hours two days before their travel but most of them now do it on our free app, it’s done on the mobile app that can be done at anytime. They don’t need to go on the Internet, they don’t need to go to their web cafe or anything else. They’re all doing it on a mobile phone.  And those passengers have chosen a reserved seat, have chosen a random seat. If you don’t want to sit together that’s fine, we understand. But you can check in at any time up to 48 hours in advance of your travel on your mobile phone, which is double the time that BA for example allows you to check in, they will only allow you to check in 24 hours before departure. So it’s a very simple move and it reflects the way our passangers are changing and moving everything to their mobile phones, and on the free-of-charge Ryanair mobile app.”

++BLACK FRAMES++

5. SOUNDBITE (English) Michael O’Leary, Ryanair Chief Executive:

“It is, I mean we’re very close. We’ve reached agreement with Aer Lingus which where we were out of Dublin, where it would allow us now we have to align the computer systems but we’re very hopeful that sometime before the end of this year, you’ll see Ryanair offering even lower fares on 85 routes into Dublin, connecting on Aer Lingus’ low cost long haul flights from Dublin through to the US. It would be a real alternative for, I think, lots of customers all over the UK outside of London, is would be to fly and connect through Dublin on to the US at a fraction of the prices being charged for direct services by BA and the American Airlines here from the UK to the US. And the great advantage of Dublin is you can pre-clear US immigration in Dublin. So you arrive in the States and you’re not stuck in big long queues, you’re straight through.”

++ENDS ON SOUNBITE++

STORYLINE:

Irish airline Ryanair reported a 10 percent increase in profits on Monday, despite issues with pilot rotas last year forcing it to cancel thousands of flights.

Profits after tax were said to have risen up to 1.45 billion euros (1.7 billion US dollars).

Speaking on UK broadcaster Sky News, Ryanair Chief Executive Michael O’Leary said that the rise in profits had been achieved despite fares falling by 3 percent and baggage charges being reduced.

O’Leary said the airline was being cautious, cutting its profits to allow for higher pilot pay and higher oil prices.

But he expressed concern over the possibililty of a hard Brexit causing flight disruptions in  2019, saying he believes there was a “risk is being downplayed here in the UK.”

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