By Steve Goldstein
Michael O’Leary, the combative chief executive of Ryanair Holdings, couldn’t resist taking a dig at its rivals during a presentation on the airline’s latest results.
“In April, for example, Ryanair carried 1 million passengers. But over a 3-month period to June, that had increased fivefold. Whereas if you take easyJet /zigman2/quotes/202825892/delayed UK:EZJ +5.23% and Wizz /zigman2/quotes/210449062/delayed UK:WIZZ -0.19% , they had managed to only increase threefold over that period, and our load factor has been significantly higher than those competitor airlines in each of those,” he said, according to a transcript provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence.
In June, Ryanair carried 5.3 million passengers and had a load factor — a measure of traffic to available seats — of 72%. EasyJet carried 1.6 million passengers in June with a load factor of 72%, and Wizz carried 1.6 million passengers with a load factor of 64%.
O’Leary also took aim at proposed European Union fuel levies aimed at making the region’s airlines less environmentally damaging. He criticized the proposal for excluding long-haul flights and not using the taxes to reinvest in alternative fuels.
“We’re also concerned that they essentially benefit the center of Europe, the Germans, the French, the Dutch, who have alternatives to flying. They can go by train, they can drive on motorways,” he said. That will come at the expense of “the regions who are heavily dependent on tourism. Ireland, Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy, will be damaged by these environmental taxes.”
Ryanair /zigman2/quotes/204098489/composite RYAAY +3.42% raised its traffic forecast for the fiscal year to a range of 90 million to 100 million passengers, from its previous guidance for the lower end of 80 million to 120 million. Its fiscal first-quarter loss widened to €273 million ($322 million) from €185 million as fuel, staff and airport charges jumped, while revenue nearly tripled to €371 million.
Ryanair shares rose 4% in mid-morning London trade. This year, Ryanair shares have slipped 1%, underperforming the broader Stoxx travel and leisure sector index /zigman2/quotes/210599599/delayed XX:SXTP +3.35% , which has gained 16%.
Separately, London’s Heathrow airport reported a widening first-half adjusted pretax loss of £787 million ($1.1 billion), compared to £471 million in the year-earlier period, as revenue dropped 51% to £348 million.
Expensive testing requirements and travel restrictions could see the U.K. taking in less passenger traffic in 2021 than in 2020, the airports giant said . The airport’s shareholders include the Qatar Investment Authority, China Investment Corp. and Ferrovial /zigman2/quotes/207599485/delayed ES:FER +0.08% .
The FTSE 100 /zigman2/quotes/210598409/delayed UK:UKX +1.33% was down 0.2% to 7,010, in step with broader market losses.