Ryanair has announced what it describes as a 'disappointing' €10m loss for the three months to the end of last year. The company blamed disruption to services caused by poor weather and air traffic control disputes.
The airline said said its third quarter revenues grew 22% to €746m thanks to a 6% increase in passenger traffic and an average fare increase of 15%. It carried a total of 17 million passengers in the three month period.
The airline said bad weather in December caused it to cancel 3,000 flights in the three months compared to less than half that number in the whole of its previous fiscal year.
The airline had hoped to break even in the quarter but says its full year profit guidance remains unchanged at between €380m and €400m.
Although oil prices have seen big increases in recent months, Ryanair said it continues to benefit from a 'favourable' fuel hedging strategy. The airline said that current prices are about $890 a tonne, but it is 90% hedged for the fourth quarter of 2011 at $750 a tonne and 80% hedged for the full year 2010 at an average price of $800 a tonne.
Ryanair also said that Ireland has fallen from over 20% of its originating traffic to less in 10% in the current year due to rapid capacity growth in Spain and Italy, as well as high airport costs at Dublin and Shannon.
The airline's chief executive Michael O'Leary stated that Ryanair has little exposure to the Irish economy.
'We do believe that Irish tourism is now ripe for growth given the increased competitiveness of Irish hotels, guest houses, restaurants and golf clubs, but this potential will not be realised until the Government travel tax is abolished and the high cost DAA airport monopoly is broken up and replaced with competing terminals and airports,' Mr O'Leary added.
He also said that he hoped the incoming government would work with Ryanair to exploit the potential for tourism and jobs growth by returning to the low cost access policy which drove Ireland's tourism growth in the 1990s.
Ryanair shares closed up 0.8% at €3.65 in Dublin.