Michael O’Leary is winding down his racing operations “in order to spend more time with his family”, says Alistair Osborne in The Times. But after Ryanair’s latest results, you have to wonder if he’d have done better to give up the airline and keep the horses.
Ever since Ryanair’s dispute with the pilots’ union in September 2017, the airline has “been struggling to hit former heights”; the shares have halved from their peak. They slipped again early this week thanks to a 29% drop in full-year profits to €1.02bn after tax.
Ryanair’s problem is that many of its costs, notably rising fuel prices, are “out of its hands”, while it is being forced to slash fares in order to maintain growth, says Ed Cropley for Breakingviews. Still, ancillary revenue was the “one bright spot” as “sales of everything from food and drinks to reserved seats and priority baggage jumped 19% to €2.4bn, a third of all the airline’s top line”. Indeed, if Ryanair is able to replicate last year’s “bumper” performance by flogging “ever more expensive on-board snacks”, this could add another €455m to Ryanair’s top line, “all but wiping out the budgeted rise in fuel prices”.
It’s not just Ryanair that is feeling the pinch, as easyJet is also struggling owing to intense competition and a public “increasingly looking to save every penny and cent”, says Jim Armitage in the Evening Standard. The group lost £275m in its winter half, but it is working very hard to reduce costs, and “this self-help will set [easyJet] up well for when times, eventually, improve”.