Ryanair rebounds from autumn cancellations debacle
Cantillon: Even with planned ‘grow-slow’, 2017 passenger numbers should pass 130m
Figures released on Monday for November, the first month of Ryanair’s slower growth period, show that passenger numbers still increased by 6 per cent on November 2016 to 9.3 million. Photograph: Eric Gaillard/Reuters
Ryanair’s reputation appeared to have taken a hammering early in the autumn when it announced that it would have to cancel flights following a mix-up over pilots’ rosters. The airline followed this with an announcement that it would slow growth between November and March to avoid the risk of further problems.
Passenger figures released on Monday for November, the first month of that slower growth period, show that passenger numbers still increased by 6 per cent on November 2016 to 9.3 million. It sold 96 per cent of the seats on its aircraft, meaning it filled virtually all of its flights. In the 12 months to the end of November, passenger numbers were up 11 per cent at 128.7 million.
This time last year, Ryanair reported that passenger numbers for November 2016 had grown 15 per cent on the same month the previous year to 8.8 million. It sold 95 per cent of the seats on its aircraft. The airline had flown 115.5 million people over the 12 months to the end of November 2016, an increase of 16 per cent on the previous 12 months.
This year’s growth figures were slower. However, Ryanair has already indicated that that would be the case. The fact that it is still filling its planes indicates that the cancellations row has not put people off flying with the airline.
At the height of September’s controversy, a number of analysts predicted that the carrier would respond with seat sales, which would help overcome any doubts that the cancellations row may have sown in the travelling public’s mind.
Ryanair did launch a series of seat sales and cut fares. That has maintained its momentum, which now looks likely to carry it comfortably past the 130 million passenger mark for the calender year.