Ryanair boss predicts tough months ahead due to rising oil prices

Irish airline flew almost 9m passengers in February

Michael O’Leary said Ryanair’s oil exposure is comfortably hedged for the coming year. Photograph: Miguel A Lopes/EPA

Ryanair flew almost nine million passengers last month as air travel moved on from the last round of Covid curbs.

The news came as the Irish carrier's chief executive, Michael O'Leary, warned that the oil price surge sparked by Russia's invasion of Ukraine would prove difficult for most airlines.

Ryanair said on Wednesday that it carried 8.7 million passengers in February, beating January’s total of seven million.

Travel suffered in December and January as European governments reimposed some restrictions after Covid’s Omicron strain emerged.


However, most EU states, including the Republic, lifted curbs later in January as the new variant proved less severe than previous versions of the virus.

Mr O’Leary believes the next 12 months will be “very difficult” for most airlines after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine pushed oil prices above $100 (€90) a barrel.

However, he maintains that Ryanair is comfortably hedged for the year ahead.

“I think it’s going to be very difficult for most airlines for the next 12 months,” Mr O’Leary told Sky News.

“We have hedged out about 80 per cent of our fuel needs out to March 2023. So for this summer, and for the rest of this year, we’ll still be able to pass on low oil prices and low fares to our customers because we have a very strong fuel hedging position.”


February’s passenger total was a multiple of the 500,000 people that Ryanair flew during the same month last year, when Covid restrictions severely limited European travel.

However, the figure trails the 10.5 million that the airline carried in February 2020, the month before the pandemic first struck, grounding most airlines.

Ryanair operated more than 53,660 flights in February, selling 86 per cent of the available seats on its aircraft.

The airline is preparing for a recovery in air travel this year, including in the Republic, where it recently announced record schedules from Cork and Dublin airports. – Additional reporting: Reuters