Ryanair: dividend marks coming of age for Europe's leading airline group

Premium Analysis

In the quarter ended 30-Sep-2023, Ryanair reported traffic, revenue and profits well above its results for the equivalent period of 2019. The airline's results statement also contained guidance for a record full-year net profit for FY2024 (year to March) and an announcement of its first ever ordinary dividend.

Ryanair has grown its intra-Europe seat share from 12% in 2019 to 16% in 2023. It is the leading airline group in this market, and the biggest European group overall by total passenger numbers.

It has done this through organic growth, while a number of leading competitors are pursuing acquisitions. Such has been the appeal of Ryanair to European travellers, it would still be number one, even if other groups' pending acquisitions had been complete in 2023.

In the years before the COVID pandemic, Ryanair was a strong cash generator, and it often made cash returns to shareholders through share buybacks and special dividends. It has now confidently restored its cash generating qualities, in spite of significant aircraft orders.

The plan to pay 25% of net profit every year in regular dividends marks a significant transition for the Irish ultra-LCC group.

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