Ryanair Holdings plc today (2 Nov.) reported a H1 loss of €197m, compared to a PY H1 profit of €1.15bn. Highlights of this 6-month period include:
- 99% of the fleet grounded from mid-March to end June.
- Successful return to service implemented 1 July.
- H1 traffic fell from 86m to 17m.
- Cost reduction measures implemented across business.
- Successful €1.25bn financing raised in Sep. (equity placing & eurobond).
- Cash prioritised. Closing cash €4.5bn.
- Over €1.5bn debt due in 2021 (incl. £600m UK CCFF & €850m Jun’14 bond).
H1 (IFRS) – Group*
30 Sep. 2019
30 Sep. 2020
* excl. €214m except. hedge ineffectiveness charge.
Covid-19 grounded the Group’s entire fleet from mid-March to the end of June as EU Govts imposed flight or travel bans and widespread population lockdowns. During this crisis, Group airlines repatriated customers and operated rescue flights for many EU Govts. The Group implemented extensive health measures, especially onboard aircraft, to comply with EU guidelines (ECDC & EASA) and on 1 July successfully resumed flights across most of our route network operating up to 60% of prior year capacity in Q2 achieving over 70% load factors. Passenger confidence and forward bookings into W.20 were negatively impacted by the return of uncoordinated EU Govt flight restrictions in Sep. and Oct. which heavily curtailed travel to/from much of Central Europe, the UK, Ireland, Austria, Belgium and Portugal. As a result, Ryanair recently cut its FY21 traffic guidance to approx. 38m guests. This takes the Group’s W.20 (Nov-Mar) capacity down from the previously guided 60% to at most 40% of prior year traffic.
Ryanair’s Customer Service teams (supported by Ryanair Labs) have cleared an unprecedented volume of customer flight changes and Covid-19 cancellations, while processing a record backlog of refunds caused by almost 4 months of EU Govt imposed flight cancellations. This process was frustrated by unlicensed OTAs, many of who provided false customer contact and fake payment details at the time of booking. Despite the enormity of the task, almost all non-OTA refund requests have now been dealt with either via cash refunds or vouchers.
The Covid-19 crisis has already caused the closure of a number of EU airlines including Flybe, Germanwings and Level as well as deep long-term capacity reductions at many others. It has sparked a flood of illegal State Aid from EU Governments to their flag carriers including Alitalia, Air France/KLM, LOT, Lufthansa, SAS, TAP and others. This illegal State Aid will distort competition and allow failed flag carriers to engage in below cost selling for many years. We expect intra-European air travel capacity to remain subdued for the next few years. This will create opportunities for Ryanair (Europe’s lowest cost airline) to grow its network, and expand its fleet, to take advantage of lower cost airport and aircraft opportunities that will inevitably arise.
H1 BUSINESS REVIEW:
Revenue & Costs
Revenue fell by 78% to €1.18bn as traffic fell 80% to 17.1m. With almost zero Q1 traffic, the vast majority of H1 revenue was earned in Q2. Ancillary revenue performed strongly as more guests chose priority boarding and reserved seating.
During the half-year substantial work has been undertaken to successfully improve Ryanair’s long term cost leadership. The Group has agreed modest pay cuts with our people and their unions which helped minimise job losses. Lauda has been completely restructured, better terms were agreed with our maintenance providers, lessors, marketing & other suppliers and many airport deals were renegotiated. Our Route Development teams are working with airports partners across Europe who have suffered steep traffic declines and discussions are ongoing with aircraft suppliers to amend pricing to reflect the new Covid-19 reality. Due to significantly reduced W.20 traffic forecasts and ongoing aircraft delivery delays, the Group recorded a €214m ineffectiveness charge on fuel and currency hedges in H1.
Balance Sheet & Liquidity
Ryanair’s balance sheet is one of the strongest in the industry with a BBB credit rating (S&P and Fitch) and over €4.5bn cash at 30 Sep. Almost 80% of the Group’s fleet is unencumbered (with a book value of over €7bn). Since March, the Group lowered cash burn by cutting costs, participating in EU Govt payroll support schemes, cancelling share buybacks and deferring non-essential capex. In Sep., the Group raised €400m of equity and a 5-year (unsecured) €850m eurobond with a 2.875% coupon (both transactions were multiple times oversubscribed and keenly priced). Cash was also boosted by €250m supplier reimbursements received in Q2. This ensures that the Group is well financed to deal with the Covid-19 crisis and removes refinancing risk as it prepares to repay maturing debt over the coming year (CCFF £600m in Mar. & €850m bond in Jun. 2021). This financial strength enables the Group to capitalise on the many growth opportunities that are available post Covid-19.
Boeing MAX update
It is over 18-months since the Group was due to take delivery of its first Boeing 737-MAX-200 aircraft. Boeing expect a calendar Q4 return to service for the MAX-8, allowing Ryanair to, hopefully, accept delivery of its first MAX-200 in early 2021. We expect to take delivery of approx. 30 MAXs before peak S.2021. While the Group received supplier reimbursements in Q2, compensation discussions will not be finalised or concluded with Boeing until the MAX returns to service and revised delivery schedules can be finalised and agreed. We remain committed to the Boeing 737, particularly the new 200 series “gamechanger” aircraft which have 4% more seats, 16% lower fuel burn and 40% lower noise emissions. These new aircraft will enable Ryanair to grow to 200m passengers p.a. over the next 5 or 6 years while lowering the cost base and significantly reducing its environmental footprint.
The risk of a no-deal Brexit remains high. We hope, before the end of the Transition Period in Dec., that the UK and Europe will agree a trade deal to cover air travel which will allow the free movement of people and the deregulated airline market between the UK and Europe to continue. As an EU airline group, Ryanair should be less affected by a no-deal Brexit than our UK registered competitors. However, we still expect Brexit to cause adverse trading consequences. Ryanair has put the necessary measures in place to ensure that the Group remains majority EU owned, including restricting voting rights of non-EU shareholders, in the event of a “hard-Brexit”. We therefore expect the Group’s AOCs in Austria, Ireland, Malta and Poland to continue to operate freely. In addition, Ryanair’s UK AOC (Ryanair UK) will be able to benefit from any bilateral agreements negotiated between the UK and non-EU countries while facilitating the operation of domestic UK flights.
FY21 will continue to be a hugely challenging year for Ryanair. Given the current Covid-19 uncertainty, Ryanair cannot provide FY21 PAT guidance at this time. The Group expects to carry approx. 38m passengers in FY21, although this guidance could be further revised downwards if EU Govts continue to mismanage air travel and impose more uncoordinated travel restrictions or lock downs this winter. The Group expects to record higher losses in H2 than in H1.
As we look beyond the Covid-19 crisis, and the emergence of effective vaccines in early 2021, the Ryanair Group expects to have a lower cost base, a stronger balance sheet, which will enable it to fund lower fares, and add new lower cost aircraft to capitalise on the many growth opportunities that will be available in all markets across Europe, especially where competitor airlines have substantially cut capacity or failed.