Irish airline Ryanair expects its summer peak season will see ticket prices rise above pre-pandemic levels amid the increasing jet fuel costs.
Chief executive officer Michael O’Leary on Tuesday said lower capacity and rising passenger demand is driving the increased prices over the coming months.
“What we’re seeing at the moment is prices are slightly lower than they were in 2019, pre-COVID, through March, April and May. They’re somewhere between 5 per cent and 10 per cent higher at the moment through June, July, August and September,” O’Leary said, according to Independent, an Irish paper.
Last week, in an interview in Brussels, O’Leary said “it is inevitable” that prices will continue to rise in the summer holidays due to the oil costs.
“Ryanair is in a very favourable situation, as we [have] about 80 per cent of our fuel until March 2023 [purchased] at between 64 and 73 dollars a barrel,” he said.
He predicts “price increases coming mainly from other airlines that are not well covered and that will have to pass on these much higher oil prices”.
The soaring prices of jet fuel was caused by the ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia, adding more pressure to airlines still recovering from the COVID-19 travel drought.
As countries across the globe have placed sanctions on Russia, the second largest exporter of oil, the average price per barrel is currently $121.9, according to the International Air Transport Association, which uses data from energy provider Platts.
In Europe, the price is 126 per cent higher than last year, IATA noted in its most recent data.
Airlines across the world have increased ticket prices to mitigate fuel costs, but many have said they still expect travel numbers to continue rising.
In March, Ryanair operated over 67,800 flights with an 87 per cent load factor, one of the highest in the world.
Its passenger count also reached 11.2 million in March, compared to half a million the same time last year.
O’Leary told the Independent that travel is “recovering strongly” for the airline, and he does not expect any “COVID scares” in the coming months.
“I think people are fed up. We have been locked up at home for the last two years on Zoom calls. They want to go travel again. Families want to go on holidays again,” he said.
“We see that very strongly this Easter and also this summer. The forward bookings are very strong, but I think there will still be some disruptions.”