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Ryanair is Europe's largest airline, the largest low-cost carrier, and one of the world's largest airlines as measured by international passengers carried. Ryanair has its largest base at London Stansted Airport, and second-largest base at Dublin Airport. Ryanair currently operates a network covering over 40 bases and 1,100 routes (with over 1,300 daily departures) across 26 countries, connecting some 155 destinations. Ryanair operates a fleet of over 250 B737-800 aircraft, with a large order backlog and employs more than 8,000 people.
Location of Ryanair main hub (London Stansted Airport)
Ryanair share price
LCCs will continue to evolve into hybrids of the original core model. CAPA and OAG consider Ryanair fits the LCC profile and it is included in our reporting on this basis. Please note: when reporting for an airline is changed from or to LCC the historical data is not affected and it can lead to a distortion in the current reported data. Contact us if you have any queries.
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CAPA's top 10 stories of the year - ranked by number of visits - is, we confess, weighted in favour of those which appeared in the first part of the year, but we offer them as holiday reading as we look back on another eventful 12 months. Ryanair is as always a popular topic; its Feb-2014 report topped the number of visits to a CAPA report by a long way. Our other SWOT analyses also feature, with Singapore Airlines and easyJet "swotted" in the Top 10.
Reports driven by CAPA's Airport Construction and Investor Databases have also been strong performers throughout the year; the unique and extensive detail they contain makes for compulsive reading for airport-related activities. And Dubai Airport's relentless rise through the capacity ranks secured it a place in the Top 10 as well.
Etihad has been a news leader during 2014, ending as CAPA's Airline of the Year in recognition of the structural change it is introducing to the world's system. Singapore Airlines, also an agent of change in some ways, now with three low(er) cost airline subsidiaries, appeared twice and the A380 and A350 also attracted attention.
We thank all CAPA Members and other visitors for your great support in 2014 and look forward to continuing to provide you with industry leading analysis, news and data in 2015.
IAG's 18-Dec-2014 announcement that it had offered to buy Aer Lingus four days earlier was a surprise. At no time since the Irish airline's 2006 IPO had anyone other than Ryanair shown interest in acquiring Aer Lingus. Moreover, with only 1% of seats to/from Europe controlled by Aer Lingus, this deal would make little difference to market concentration in the region, where consolidation has lagged North America.
However, Aer Lingus has two key attractions to IAG and its CEO Willie Walsh, an ex-CEO of Aer Lingus: an important holding of slots at London Heathrow, the main hub of IAG's British Airways, and a high growth strategy on the North Atlantic, which is BA's key long-haul market.
Probably to the relief of both companies' advisors as the holiday season approached, Aer Lingus rejected the offer on the grounds that it fundamentally undervalues its business. Nevertheless, a convergence of factors makes it likely that IAG will return with another offer. Mr Walsh is an old acquaintance who does not wish to be forgot.
Ryanair lags easyJet on business traveller & customer service initiatives; both have great potential
Ryanair recently raised net profit FY2015 guidance (year to March) for the second time. It now expects EUR810 million to EUR830 million, up from its previous range of EUR750 million to EUR770 million. This was thanks to faster passenger growth, stimulated by lower fares, but also reflecting improved customer service and new routes.
The largest carrier of passengers within Europe, Ryanair has rebounded very strongly from last year's profit warnings. Almost at the flip of a switch, it has raised its load factor and profit margins. It is opening new routes from more primary airports and with greater frequencies, increasing its appeal to business passengers.
Ryanair lags easyJet in its initiatives towards business travellers and regarding wider customer service improvements. Moreover, revenue per passenger is set to dip in 2HFY2015 as it absorbs strong capacity growth. Nevertheless, Ryanair has a significant opportunity to grow revenue per passenger as it follows easyJet up the yield curve. In this report, we compare the two on frequencies, presence in major airports and unit revenues. There is still room for both.
The Aegean Airlines Group's string of good financial results continued with 3Q2014 operating profit increasing by more than a quarter compared with the same period a year earlier (based on proforma figures with Olympic in the comparable). Aegean is growing its capacity at a double digit rate, with particularly strong growth in the domestic market and on international routes from Athens, just as Ryanair is expanding rapidly in Greece. This has led to downward pressure on yields and RASK, but Aegean has successfully cut CASK even more quickly to drive up its margins.
Competition between Aegean and Ryanair looks set to intensify in 2015, when the battle may extend to Cyprus, regardless of whether or not one of them is successful in biding for Cyprus Airways.
As Aer Lingus will testify, having Ryanair as your nearest and biggest competitor focuses the mind. Aegean will need to prove that its recent good run can be extended.
easyJet's most recent annual results, for the financial year ended Sep-2014, confirmed its position as one of Europe's most profitable airlines. Its pre-tax profit of GBP581 million was 22% higher than last year and its operating margin of 12.8% was up 1.1 ppts from last year. Among European airlines, easyJet ranks second only to Ryanair's 16.5% margin for the same 12 month period. According to its own measure of return on capital employed, it ranks first among leading European airlines and in the first quartile of companies from all sector's in the UK's benchmark FTSE 100 stock market index.
Significantly, these results seem to have silenced easyJet's founder and largest shareholder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, who has also been its greatest critic in recent years since resigning from the Board in 2010. The proposed annual dividend will be 36% higher than last year and Sir Stelios' family stands to receive GBP63 million. One of the rare successes in the airline sector, CAPA analyses easyJet's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in this report.
Ryanair has again achieved double digit growth in net profits in 2QFY2015. This was the result of revenue per seat growth outpacing cost per seat growth. After Ryanair's dip in profits in FY2014, it has now reported two quarters of earnings growth and reconfirmed its position as Europe's most profitable airline. It has again raised its FY2015 net profit guidance and expects a result that is around 45% higher than last year.
With a slight fall in average sector length in 2Q, the increased revenue per seat was the result of network and product/service improvements and greater overlap with higher fare competitors. It seems that Ryanair has made good progress with its 'Always Getting Better' programme and this is feeding through to the numbers.
Remarkably for Ryanair, it is even starting to make positive progress in brand rating surveys. As CEO Michael O'Leary said to analysts at the 2Q results presentation, "It's not cheap and nasty any more," he said, "it's cheap and very good."