Ryanair CEO predicts higher fares on 'surprisingly strong' bookings

Ryanair's bookings for the autumn mid-term and Christmas holidays are ahead of pre-COVID levels and it sees average fares rising by more than expected for the financial year to end-March, Chief Executive Michael O'Leary said on Thursday.

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O'Leary told Reuters that as long as there was no adverse news flow on COVID or Ukraine, underlying air fares "will rise by a mid to high single digit figure for the full year" versus its most recent forecast for 3-4% growth.

"At the moment they (bookings) are surprisingly strong, we thought they would begin to ease off but actually forward bookings into the mid-term and into Christmas are stronger in terms of volume and pricing than they were pre-COVID," O'Leary said in an interview.

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O'Leary said the demand appeared to be supported by savings built up during the pandemic and that Ryanair does expect that customers' disposable income will get hit by increases in interest rates and the cost of living further into the northern hemisphere winter.

"But so far everything seems to indicate that people are switching to the lowest cost airline and in all markets that's Ryanair," he said.

Low cost rival easyJet said earlier on Thursday that demand for the coming months was holding up despite pressure on household budgets, while British Airways-owner IAG also said its third-quarter results were better than expected.

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Ryanair, which unlike many airlines kept its pilots and crew up-to-date with their flying hours during the pandemic to take advantage of the swift rebound, flew a record 16.9 million passengers in August and close to that again in September.

It expects to fly 166.5 million passengers in the year to the end of March, significantly ahead of its previous annual record of 149 million reached before the pandemic brought the travel industry to a standstill.

Source: Reuters

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