Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary says he will run the carrier unprofitably rather than rein in growth and will wait to cash in as other airlines go bust.
O’Leary announced record profits of Euro481 million for the year to the end of March and said: “We’re growing like Gangbusters.”
Ryanair has added 200 routes this summer, taking its network across to 650, and O’Leary said its fleet of 163 aircraft would grow to 360 in five years. However, the airline will ground up to 20 aircraft this winter, principally at Stansted where O’Leary said passenger growth has stalled.
The carrier is prepared to make no profit in the current financial year if oil remains at $130 a barrel, he said – a price that would force Ryanair to raise fares by an average 5%. The airline stands to lose Euro125 million this year if fares stay at the current level and there is no change in the fuel price.
But O’Leary warned: “Most airlines are going to be losing horrendous amounts of money. The tragedy of Silverjet will be followed by more airline collapses.” Business-only carrier Silverjet went into administration last Friday.
O’Leary dismissed suggestions that the high oil price means the end of low-fare travel. “The era of high-fare travel is over because of oil at $130 a barrel,” he said.