Ryanair sees passenger increase in December despite OTA issues

Low-cost airline Ryanair has released its performance data for December 2023, showing the carrier wasn’t affected by recent concerns with online travel agent issues.

The carrier’s year on year performance for passenger movements saw a 9% increase from December 2022 – rising from 11.52 million to 12.54 million passengers in December 2023.

Ryanair operated over 72,50 flights in total for the month. Over 900 flights were cancelled due to the Israel/Gaza conflict.

Ryanair Year-on-Year Performance

December 2023 showcased a robust 9% surge in passenger movements compared to the same period in 2022. The numbers climbed from 11.52 million to an impressive 12.54 million passengers, affirming Ryanair’s steadfast growth and popularity among travelers.

Flight Operations

A staggering 72,500 flights took to the skies under Ryanair’s banner in December. However, the operational rhythm faced disruptions as over 900 flights succumbed to cancellations due to the Israel/Gaza conflict.

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This unforeseen challenge tested the airline’s agility in adapting to geopolitical nuances affecting travel patterns.

A Ryanair cabin crew member exits and aircraft.
Photo Credit: Ryanair

Turbulence in the OTA Landscape

The narrative took a turn in early December when what the airline described as “major OTA Pirates”, including Booking.com, Kiwi, and Kayak, swiftly removed Ryanair’s flights from their platforms.

According to the carrier, the sudden disappearance of Ryanair’s flights from OTA Pirates could be attributed to various factors. Firstly, it might be a response to Consumer Protection Agencies applying pressure on these platforms.

Secondly, it could be a reverberation of the Irish High Court’s recent ruling, bestowing Ryanair with a permanent injunction against screenscraper Flightbox. This ruling aimed at curbing the unauthorized scraping of Ryanair.com content for OTA use.

Effect on Load Factors and Yields

While OTA Pirates constituted only a fraction of Ryanair’s bookings, their abrupt removal is anticipated to have short-term repercussions. Load factors may witness a 1% to 2% dip in December and January, accompanied by softened yields.

However, Ryanair remains resolute, assuring stakeholders that this won’t significantly impact the full-year traffic or PAT guidance for FY24.

“While these OTA Pirates only account for a small fraction of Ryanair’s bookings, we expect the sudden removal of our flights from these OTA websites to reduce short term load factors by 1% or 2% in Dec and Jan and also to soften short term yields as we respond by making more low fares available directly to consumers,” the airline said in a statement.

Strategic Response

In response to this unexpected shift, Ryanair is gearing up to make strategic moves. The airline plans to counterbalance the temporary dip by lowering fares where necessary, urging passengers to book directly on their website.

This, in turn, ensures travelers secure the lowest airfares without falling prey to OTA Pirate overcharges or potential scams.

Direct Booking for Transparent Travel

While weathering the storm caused by the on-line issue, Ryanair remains committed to transparency and passenger-centric initiatives. The airline is unwavering in its support for honest and transparent OTA platforms, such as Google Flights.

These platforms, devoid of hidden markups, redirect passengers to make their bookings directly on the official Ryanair website.

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