Ryanair has reported a slump in quarterly profits and narrowed its expectations for annual earnings after a number of online travel agents (OTAs) removed its flights from their websites.
It comes after an ongoing feud between the low-cost carrier and several OTAs which Ryanair has described as “pirates” because of alleged “scamming” by charging customers higher fees.
The airline appeared to be taken by surprise by the removal of its flights from travel agents’ websites in December, which caused the load factor to drop by one percentage point, the Guardian reports.
Ryanair said it made profit after tax of €15mn over the final three months of 2023, its third quarter, compared to the €211m it achieved in the same period a year previously – despite a poll of analysts expecting a figure of €49m.
The sum came in lower despite a 7 per cent rise in passenger numbers, and fares being 13 per cent higher.
According to Sky News, the move by online travel agents forced the airline to cut fares to fill seats.
Michael O’Leary, CEO of Ryanair, said: “While we will benefit from the first half of Easter traffic falling in late March, this is unlikely to fully offset the weaker than previously expected load factors and yields late in the third quarter and early fourth quarter.”
The airline has previously strongly complained about OTAs selling its flights without permission, and recently claimed companies such as Kiwi.com, Opodo, eDreams and lastminute.com were overcharging passengers.
But this comes after Ryanair offered to step in and pick up more Boeing 737 Max aircraft if any US airlines cancel their orders amid deepening manufacturing problems at the plane maker.
The budget airline has emerged as Boeing’s most supportive big customer after the manufacturer was plunged into crisis by a fuselage blowout on an Alaska Airlines flight earlier this month.
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