Ryanair profits hit four-year low amid falling ticket prices and Brexit uncertainty

Ryanair profits hit four-year low amid falling ticket prices and Brexit uncertainty

RYANAIR has reported its lowest profit in four years, with the Irish low-cost carrier blaming a fall in air fares on the back of "negative Brexit developments".

The budget airline's after-tax profits for the financial year to March 31 2019 tumbled by 29% to €1.02 billion (£890m) from €1.45 billion (£1.27 billion) the previous year, the company revealed on Monday.

Average one-way ticket prices fell 6% to €37 (£32.30) over the same period, while overall passenger numbers at Europe's largest discount flier rose by 7% to 139 million.

As well as dropping fares, Ryanair's profits were also dragged down by higher fuel costs and cabin crew strikes last summer.

The airline's staff bill rose by €200m – including a 20% pay increase for pilots – and it paid out €50m in compensation due to air traffic control strikes and staff shortages.

Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary predicted fares will eventually begin to rise again (Image: Getty)

Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary said consumer nervousness over Brexit could drive ticket prices down once again by up to 2% this year, but predicted that "artificially low" fares will eventually begin to rise again.

"There is a later booking pattern and we're having to stimulate bookings with lower air fares," he said.

"Frankly, if we are in a period where there's going to be attritional fare wars for a year or two that's good for Ryanair... but profits will suffer for a year or two and I think that is what our shareholders should expect.

"[Ticket prices] will begin to rise again because they are artificially low at the moment".

Ryanair issued a further "cautious" profits warning for the next year, predicting another drop to between €750m and €950m by March 31 2020.

Shares in the budget airline fell by 6% this morning after it revealed its fall in profitability by almost a third.