Ryanair forced to fly with empty seats after OTA ticket halt

Ryanair (ISE: RYA) flights were emptier in January than the same month a year ago after a number of online travel agents (OTAs) stopped selling its flights in early December, though the budget giant still managed to grow its traffic by 3% year-on-year.

The average number of empty seats per Ryanair flight in January, one of its quieter months of the year, increased to 11% from 9% in January 2023, giving it a so-called load factor of 89%. Ryanair flew 12.2 million passengers last month compared to 11.8 million in January 2022.

Ryanair had for years accused the OTAs of adding illegitimate extra charges and launched court cases against them. The airline appeared surprised when several major OTAs suddenly halted ticket sales in December.

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Ryanair’s chief financial officer said this week that the impact on bookings is already fading. The Irish carrier has also said it has reached agreements with some OTAs, including Kiwi.com, to sell its tickets again.

OTAs accounted for an estimated 10-15% of Ryanair’s bookings before sales were halted. The airline trimmed its profit forecast for the financial year ending in March as a result of the temporary dip in bookings.

Ryanair shares were up 1.48% by 0930 GMT on Friday. The stock has risen 26% over the past 12 months.