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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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When it announced a return to profit for FY2013 in Dec-2013, SAS warned that 1QFY2014 would be “extremely weak”. Its prediction has proved correct. The SAS Group’s 1Q pre-tax loss (before non-recurring items) widened by 57%. It continued to make good progress with its 4Excellence Next Generation (4XNG) cost reduction plan, but highly competitive market conditions weighed heavily on unit revenues.
SAS President and CEO Rickard Gustafson commented that the quarter was “marked by overcapacity and lower growth, which put pressure on margins across the entire market.” In this respect, SAS may be contributing to its own problems as it plans faster growth than the market this summer.
Its cost cutting and product improvement credentials are strengthening with each passing quarter, but its capacity growth is clearly not being absorbed profitably by the market.
Part 1 of this report described how the Welsh Government purchased Cardiff Airport from Abertis/AENA (TBI) for a total investment of GBP52 million and the sale of Glasgow Prestwick Airport to TS Prestwick Holdco Limited, an entity wholly owned by the Scottish Ministers. It raised the issue of whether other smaller UK airports might now be re-nationalised following their example.
Some are certainly in the frame, though there is less likelihood of this happening in England, where there are no regional governments, unlike Wales and Scotland.
Despite the moves at Cardiff and Prestwick, the English mentality on regionalism is probably not so strong as in Wales and Scotland. In England a more national overview tends to be taken, even in regions such as Tyneside and Cornwall, where there are quite strong regional tendencies (and even a separatist movement in Cornwall).
In Part 2 of this report on UK airports, we focus on the English airports and look at where others like Peel Airports and MAG may be headed.
Could the return of Cardiff Airport (Wales) and Scotland’s Glasgow Prestwick Airport to the public sector be an indicator of future trends for secondary and sub-primary level airports in the UK?
There are several other privately operated airports whose future is looking decidedly indifferent.
The question now, as airport ownership has become less attractive to investors than it has been during the last two decades, is whether other airports in the UK might follow suit?
Boeing delivered a record 648 aircraft in 2013 and the manufacturer is set to continue to break its own delivery records in 2014. With plentiful demand for its narrowbody and widebody aircraft, Boeing continues to raise production even as its backlog continues to build, now standing at a record 5,080 aircraft.
Although wary of raising output too high, given issues with sections of its supply chain and its own manufacturing facilities, Boeing is also confident that there will be no production bubble. The company plans to deliver between 715 and 725 aircraft in 2014, an increase of around 10%, as it increases deliveries of its popular 737NG and 787 families.
Canada’s WestJet managed to grow FY2013 earnings by nearly 11% – in the same year it launched a new regional carrier, reconfigured its aircraft to offer an extended legroom section and introduced new fare bundles. The results are commendable given the debut of Encore in particular pressured WestJet’s unit revenue and yields during the latter half of 2013.
WestJet maintains a relatively positive view in the early days of 2014, supported by a recent 2% fare hike across its network that for the moment is being matched by its competitors and absorbed by the market. But the carrier is warning of cost headwinds during 2014 driven by a weakening of Canada’s currency against the US dollar and the acceleration of certain engine overhauls.
With a fairly decent balance sheet, WestJet should be able to withstand some of the potential economic challenges created by currency fluctuations that are driven by uncertainty in the emerging markets. But if conditions worsen, it may need to temper some of its growth plans in order to protect its consistent profitability.
Ryanair’s 3QFY2014 saw it slip into loss, dragging its 9MFY2014 net profit down by almost 8%, mainly because of a 9% drop in its 3Q average fares. However, this yield decline was in line with Ryanair’s guidance and the carrier says that market pricing is no longer declining. Moreover, it reiterated FY2014 guidance for net profit between EUR500 million and EUR520 million. While this is below the EUR569 million net profit recorded in the previous year, the re-confirmed target allayed the fears of some that Ryanair would once again lower its guidance.
As the start of deliveries in Sep-2014 under Ryanair’s new Boeing order approaches, the airline remains committed to its passenger growth targets. In addition to its core attraction of offering the lowest average fares in the European short haul market, Ryanair is aiming to enhance its appeal through a series of customer service and distribution initiatives. In spite of a likely dip in profits this year, if it can achieve its passenger targets without further heavy yield declines, it should retain its position as Europe’s most profitable airline.