Michael O Leary, the Ryanair boss and pioneer of low-cost travel in Europe, has warned that airfares would go up for the next five years because flying has become too cheap to make profits as industry costs spiral.
He said that ticket prices rose across Europe and the US as passengers returned to the coronaviruses lockdowns and some airlines cut capacity because of staff shortages.
He told the Financial Times: It's too cheap for what it is. I find it absurd every time I fly to Stansted, the train journey into central London is more expensive than the air fare. O Leary said that he expected a combination of high oil prices and environmental charges to push the average Ryanair fare up from €40 34 to between €50 and €60 over the medium term.
He also criticised the UK government and what he called the disaster of Brexit, which had stopped airlines from recruiting European workers and worsened staff shortages this summer. He said that this is one of the inevitable consequences of the disaster that has been caused by the decision to leave the EU.
Withdrawing from the single market, just so that they can say, We got Brexit done was the height of idiocy. They are idiots. His comments come amid reports that airlines are preparing to announce a new wave of cancellations next week.
On Thursday and Friday, passengers complained of long lines, cancelled flights and lost baggage as schedule intervention and disruptions at UK airports were exacerbated by strikes in Spain.
O Leary is one of the first airline bosses to warn of an increase in fares in the long term. The Irish airline had hedged the majority of its future fuel requirements at $65 54 a barrel before Russia invaded Ukraine, saving it from the worst impact of the rise in prices.
The Ryanair boss believes that fares will rise, as he expects that oil prices will remain high for the next four or five years until we can wean ourselves off Russian oil and gas. He said that he expects to see higher inflationary pressures on the airline industry next year, including staff costs and air traffic control charges, as well as rising environmental charges.
Ryanair is the only major carrier in Europe that has been able to get rid of staff shortages. EasyJet rejected 8,000 job applicants last month because of their nationality this year, most of whom were from the EU. There were disruptions around the world because of staff shortages, according to the UK Department for Transport.