Ryanair trims profit forecast amid plunging sterling

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary said the Irish carrier has been hit by the slump in the pound. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary said the Irish carrier has been hit by the slump in the pound. Picture: Ian Georgeson

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Ryanair today became the latest airline to warn over the impact of the plunging pound as it said full-year profits would take a hit.

The Irish carrier blamed an 18 per cent fall in the value of sterling since the Brexit vote as it cut its annual earnings forecast by 5 per cent.

It said fares fell more than expected in the first half of its financial year – down 10 per cent – and were now set to drop by up to 15 per cent in the final six months as the Brexit-hit pound takes its toll.

Ryanair now expects full-year earnings of between €1.3 billion (£1.17bn) and €1.35bn, down from the previous range of €1.38bn to €1.43bn.

It comes after rival EasyJet revealed a £90 million impact from the falling pound earlier this month, on top of at least £125m in lost profit after a combination of terror attacks across Europe, Egypt and Tunisia as well as air traffic control strikes in France and political turmoil in Turkey.

READ MORE: EasyJet profits hit by Brexit fallout and attacks

Both airlines have been slashing fares to boost demand, but Ryanair said lower costs across the group were helping offset the impact of the pound and are now set to fall by 3 per cent excluding fuel over its full year.

Its lower fares also appear to be boosting sales as the group edged up the full-year forecast for its load factor – a key measure of how full its planes are – to 94 per cent and said it now expected to carry 119 million passengers, up 12 per cent year-on-year.

READ MORE: Ten new Ryanair routes announced for Scotland

Chief executive Michael O’Leary said: “The recent sharp decline in sterling post-Brexit – which accounts for approximately 26 per cent of Ryanair’s full-year revenues – will weaken second-half yields by slightly more than we had originally expected.

“While higher load factors, stronger traffic growth and better cost control will help to ameliorate these weaker revenues, it is prudent now to adjust full-year guidance.”

Ryanair’s expected earnings will still mark a 7 per cent rise on the previous year, although this is sharply lower than the 12 per cent hike it had previously pencilled in. But it cautioned that forecasts could be lowered again if the pound and fares fell further.

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