MIAMI – Ryanair (FR) has reported a full-year profit of €1,002m (excl. hedge ineffectiveness), compared to €885m last year. According to the carrier, the highlights include:
- Traffic grew 4% to 149m guests.
- Revenue per guest rose 6% to €57 (2% higher fares & ancillary rev. up 16%).
- Over 90% of flights arrived on-time (excl. ATC delays).
- EU’s greenest, cleanest airline (66g CO₂ pax/km).
- 5 new bases & 390 new routes.
- Malta Air became 4th Group airline.
- The new digital platform launched with improved, personalized, guest offers.
- Strong balance sheet & liquidity.
|FY20 (IFRS) – Group*||31 Mar. 2019||31 Mar. 2020||Change|
*excl. €353m except. hedge ineffectiveness charge
Most of FR’s fleet was grounded from mid-March by EU Government flight bans and restrictions. These groundings reduced its March and full-year traffic by over 5m guests and cut FY20 profits by over €40m.
As updated on 1 May, Ryanair expects to operate less than 1% of its scheduled flying program in Q1 (Apr. to June).
Some return to flight services is expected in Q2 (July-Sept.) and Ryanair expects to carry no more than 50% of its original Q2 traffic target of 44.6m, as bookings will be impacted by public health restrictions (temperature checks and face coverings for passengers and staff) and quarantine requirements.
A few flights are anticipated in Q2 (July-Sept.), but FR anticipates to carry no more than 50% of its unique Q2 operational target of 44.6m, as bookings will be affected by check-in limitations such as temperature checks and mandatory masks for travelers and staff as well as isolation prerequisites.
Ryanair states that as Group airlines return to regularly scheduled flying starting in July, the competitive scene in Europe will be “distorted” by the unprecedented sums of state aid given out (in breach of EU rules).
€30b in government help has been handed out to the Lufthansa Group, Air France-KLM, Alitalia, SAS, and Norwegian among others.
Ryanair subsequently anticipates that activity on decreased flight plans will be subject to critical cost-reductions, and below-cost offering, from these major carriers with colossal “state aid war chests.”
BUSINESS REVIEW (FY20): FR Revenues
According to the report, sales grew 10% to €8.5b. Scheduled Revenue, pushed by 4% traffic growth to 149m and 2% higher fares, went up by 6% to €5.6b. Covid-19 flight restrictions and aircraft groundings in mid-March reduced traffic by over 5m in Q4.
Ancillary Revenue rose by 20% to €2.9b as more passengers choose Priority Boarding and Preferred Seat services. In October, Ryanair Labs launched a new digital platform with improved, personalized, guest offers.
The launch helped the airline in Q4, prior to Covid-19 groundings, with Labs working on improved penetration across core ancillary products.
Costs for Ryanair
The airline’s fuel bill rose 14% (+€335m) to €2.8b due to higher prices and 4% traffic growth. Ex-fuel unit costs were impacted negatively by a 48% drop in March traffic (-5.2m passengers) due to Covid-19 groundings and, as a result, rose by 4% (ahead of the +2% guided).
Higher staff costs (expanded pilot pay & higher crew proportions as pilots acquiescences moderated to zero) and upkeep costs of older aircraft (due to the Boeing MAX delivery delays) were balanced by falling EU261 costs (due to superior on-time-performance) plus lower route fees.
The Group has recorded an extraordinary €353m (net of tax) hedge ineffectualness charge on FY21 fuel supports (due to COVID-19 groundings), counterbalanced by favorable €/$ cash supports for fuel and postponed CAPEX.
The Ryanair Group continued to evolve during FY20. Buzz increased its fleet to 45 B737 and expanded with new bases in Prague and Budapest outside of Poland.
Due to intense price competition from the Lufthansa subsidiaries in its core Austrian and German markets, Lauda underperformed in FY20 with fares lower than expected. FY20 traffic, however, grew to 6.4m at high load factors.
In April, David O’Brien (former Ryanair CCO) joined the management team of Lauda as Joint Chief Executive Officer. The Lauda fleet has been grounded since 17 March, owing to Covid-19 restrictions.
With the costs expected from other Group Airlines and Lauda’s main competitor, Austrian Airlines, to receive €800 m of State aid, Lauda had to completely rethink its strategy and significantly reduce its growth plans.
The management team is pursuing restructuring and cost-cutting plans and is actively engaged in negotiations on workforce cuts with its employees and unions to ensure the future of its A320 base in Wien.
Failure to agree on meaningful cost reductions on 20 May will result in more than 300 job losses at the Vienna A320 base being closed on 30 May. Lauda has already given up plans for the Ryanair Group to operate a base at Zadar.
Malta Air, which last summer became 4th Group airline, grew strongly in FY20. This has taken over the French, German, Italian and Maltese bases of the Company, with a fleet of approximately 120 aircraft.
Just as Buzz, Lauda, and Ryanair DAC, it is now evaluating all aspects of its cost base so that it is competitive in its key markets where it can contend against bailed-out government traditional carriers.
In FY20, Ryanair DAC performed well, opening new markets in Armenia, Georgia and Lebanon. However, its fleet fell to 275 B737, as both Buzz and Malta Air took over the Group’s flight operations.
Due to Ryanair’s investment in new handling arrangements in Stansted, Poland, and Spain, punctuality improved to over 90 percent (excl. ATC delays). Eddie Wilson was appointed CEO of Ryanair DAC in September.
Boeing MAX Update
It is over a year since its first Boeing 737-MAX-200 aircraft was due to be delivered to the Group. Boeing is actively leading the late summer return of the B737-MAX to service in the US.
The airline states that once it gets its first MAX-200 plane, it agrees this will be at least in October.
The airline remains fans of these “gamechanger” aircraft with 4 percent more seats and 16 percent lower fuel burning, transforming the cost base of Ryanair for the next decade.
Ryanair is currently updating short-term growth plans and is in active negotiations with both Boeing and the A320 lessors from Lauda to reduce scheduled deliveries over the next 24 months to reflect slower post-COVID-19 traffic growth in 2020 and 2021.
Balance Shees and Liquidity
Ryanair’s balance sheet is one of the industry’s strongest with a current cash balance of €4.1b (Ryanair recently raised £600 m under the UK’s CCFF) and 330 uncharged B737 (77% of the fleet owned).
The Group has introduced a series of steps since mid-March to conserve capital, slash costs, suspend equity buybacks and delay operational and non-essential CAPEX expenditure.
As a result, the average cash burn per week has fallen from almost €200m in March to just over €60m in May. This resilience will allow the group to withstand COVID-19 and emerge better as the recession subsides.
In this regard, the airline’s CEO has said, “Our focus will remain on cash preservation/generation and the repayment of maturing debt over the next 24 months.”
Ryanair to cut almost 3,000 jobs
Ryanair is in talks with FR workers and respective unions over salary cuts, unpaid leave, and up to 3,000 jobs lost, while COVID-19 reduced the number of passengers on the carrier by more than 5 million.
However, the outspoken CEO of the airline is somewhat optimistic about this summer ‘s travel in Europe, telling CNBC that he anticipates a “deep price discount” on flights.
In its full-year results to the end of March, the Irish carrier said sales increased to €8.49b (US$9.19b) — a 10 percent rise from the year before. Income was up 13 percent at 1 billion euros, excluding a fuel hedge fee.
However, it said the ongoing pandemic and subsequent travel restrictions suggest this year will be “difficult” for the carrier.
The majority of its airplanes were grounded from mid-March and the company expects to resume at-most 50% of its scheduled flights during the second quarter (between July and September).
Speaking to CNBC Monday, Michael O’Leary, CEO of Ryanair, was confident some passengers will still be looking for a summer break.
In “Northern Europe, Ireland, and the UK,” he said people will still be going on family vacations to Spain, Portugal; always going to the beaches. COVID-19’s occurrences are very small in those regions.
“We do think families will still go on the summer holidays once the school holidays come around, but at best we think we are talking about 50% of our normal traveling,” he added.
Ryanair, which said it would not pursue state funding, said the economic climate would become “distorted” as a result of government support for other airlines across Europe.
O’Leary told CNBC that as the restrictions ease or lose all credibility, “I think you will see people returning in quite quick numbers, but mainly on the back of deep price discounting both for the airfares and also for the hotel and accommodation packages.”
So far, the government has injected €7b into AirFrance in France, which is still awaiting some Dutch assistance. The Italian government is helping Alitalia with 3 billion euros shortly to become nationalized, while in Germany, officials are already discussing a bailout package for Lufthansa.
Elsewhere, earlier this month, Ryanair began court proceedings against EE authorities to sanction US$493m in debt guarantees for Swedish based airlines.
Ryanair maintains that this is a violation of EU rules because it is locking up all airlines operating to Sweden even without a country base. The case opens the door to similar lawsuits.
Two-week quarantine is a ‘joke’; CEO O’Leary slams ‘idiotic’ quarantine periods
O’Leary was also dismissive of the travel restrictions of some European authorities, imposed in an effort to hinder Covid-19 ‘s expansion.
It comes as Italy, the CEO told CNBC that it was a helpful move by Italy, one of Europe’s worst-hit coronavirus countries, to relax more restrictions over the weekend. Which involves the right of European citizens to fly to Italy without the need for two weeks of isolation.
O’Leary, in regards to Italy’s plan, did tell CNBC that “they removed this idiotic 14-day isolation that is both unimplementable and unmanageable, in favor of using masks and temperature checks,” he said, adding that “the two-week quarantine is a joke.”
Many European countries, including the United Kingdom, have announced plans to impose a two-week quarantine time for all passengers on inbound flights.
Again, O’Leary did not mince words when he said, “We are in dialogue with the (U.K.) government but [the] government has no idea what [it is] talking about.”
“You ask senior government ministers in the U.K. to define what the 14-day isolation period will be, they can’t. They say it is based on science but then (they) can’t explain why you’re exempting the Irish and the French.”