Ryanair is seizing market share from rivals this summer as it offers 15% more seats than pre-Covid while competing carriers are operating 15%-20% below 2019 levels.
Group chief executive Michael O’Leary described the disruption to travel as playing into Ryanair’s hands, declaring: “Big queues at Dover and cancellations at Gatwick are good news for Ryanair.
“We’re outperforming all other airlines, making significant gains in market share.”
Ryanair has escaped the worst of the flight delays and cancellations across Europe, having retained staff and negotiated 20% cuts in pay rather than axe jobs to survive the pandemic.
O’Leary said the carrier has seen “no slack off in bookings” due to the disruption, claiming: “Disrupted airlines are booking disrupted passengers on Ryanair. We’re seeing a notable increase in bookings from refugee [passengers] fleeing Heathrow and Gatwick.”
He argued: “We’re seeing a once-in-a-lifetime jump in market share.
“We’re making extraordinary gains in share in Italy, Romania, Hungary, Austria and Ireland and we expect these gains to continue.
“We see very strong growth in Portugal, Spain and the UK where cutbacks by easyJet and British Airways are assisting our growth, and we see very strong growth in Eastern Europe.
“We’ve overtaken Wizz in its home market Hungary.”
O’Leary added: “You’ll continue to see us take market share unless we do something monumentally stupid.
He conceded: “We are seeing some disruption due to the abysmal performance of European air traffic control and shortages of staff at some airports.”
The carrier reported “much lower punctuality than normal”, with air traffic control difficulties taking “almost 20 [percentage] points off our punctuality”.
The Ryanair chief expressed “considerable sympathy for competitor airlines”, saying: “They’re taking a lot of criticism for delays and cancellations that are not their fault because of air traffic control, particularly in France.”
But he added: “I don’t have a lot of sympathy for the bullshit coming out of airports and Heathrow, in particular.”
O’Leary noted Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye had suggested no one expected this level of demand’, and said: “Yes, we did. We planned for it.
“I’ve no time for this bullshit. Heathrow is a rapacious, over-charging monopoly.
“Most airlines, airports and handling companies across Europe are short staffed and we expect that to continue.”
O’Leary was speaking as Ryanair reported a profit of €170 million for the three months to June 30.