Ryanair has put “contingency plans” in place to deal with the potential impact of Brexit on its flights.
Michael O’Leary, the Irish airline’s CEO, warned that it could move its UK-based aircraft to continental Europe if it does not receive “clarity” on how UK-EU flights will operate after Brexit.
“If we do not have certainty about the legal basis for the operation of flights between the UK and the EU by autumn 2018, we may be forced to cancel flights and move some - or all - of our UK-based aircraft to continental Europe from April 2019 onwards,” said O’Leary.
Ryanair is campaigning for the UK to stay in the EU Single Aviation Market. But warned that if the UK leaves this “open skies” agreement there may “not be sufficient time or goodwill on both sides” to negotiate a separate deal to allow flights to continue from April 2019.
“We, like all airlines, seek clarity on this issue before we publish our summer 2019 schedule in the second quarter of 2018,” added O’Leary.
“We have contingency plans in place and will, as always, adapt to changed circumstances in the best interests of our customers and shareholders.”
O’Leary’s comments came as Ryanair increased its pre-tax profits by 55 per cent to €443.7 million for the three months to June 30 – up from €286.5 million for the same quarter in 2016.
The airline has admitted that these results have been “distorted” by Easter being in April this year, which helped boost revenue by 13 per cent to €1.91 billion as passenger numbers rose by 12 per cent to 35 million for the quarter.
Average fares rose by 1 per cent year-on-year to €40 as strong bookings for Easter were “offset by adverse sterling, lower bag revenue as more customers switch to our two free carry-on bag policy, and yield stimulation following a series of security events in Manchester and London”.
The airline said that fares were expected to fall over the final three quarters of its financial year due to a "very competitive" market - Ryanair's fares are set to fall by 8 per cent during the 2017-18 winter season.
Ryanair expects to make a post-tax profit in the current financial year of €1.4 billion to €1.45 billion. But added that this is “heavily dependent” on summer bookings, average fares and “the absence of any further security events, ATC strikes or negative Brexit developments”.