Ryanair credits marketing investment for boost to passenger numbers

Ryanair blamed lower fares and increased competition for its first Q3 loss since 2010 but says forward bookings for the fourth quarter and full year are running “significantly” ahead of last year after recent increases in marketing spend.

Video: Ryanair’s ‘We are Changing’ Irish TV ad


The airline made a loss after tax of €35.2m for the three months to the end of December, compared to a profit of €18.1m in the same period a year ago. Revenues were flat at €964m.

Ryanair said passenger numbers were up 6 per cent year on year but seat promotions caused average fares to drop 9 per cent compared to a year ago. “Ancillary” revenues, which includes bag fees, priority boarding and credit card fees, were up 13 per cent.

Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary says: “We responded to this weaker pricing environment last September with seat promotion and lower fares which stimulated traffic across all markets.”

Ryanair actually cut marketing spend in the quarter, with “marketing, distribution and other” expenses down to €147.4m, from €160.6m a year ago. Ryanair put this down to reduced marketing spend per passenger, although does say that it has increased advertising and marketing spend “recently”.

This includes a campaign launched in January with the strapline “We’re changing”, which has appeared in print and outdoor, as well as in a TV ad campaign in Ireland. Ryanair has also recently appointed its first marketing director in Kenny Jacobs, who joined the airline from MoneySupermarket.

Ryanair says this increased investment in marketing has helped to boost forward bookings for the fourth quarter and full-year, which are now running “significantly” ahead of last year.

Ryanair is facing growing competition from low cost rivals including easyJet, which it has previously admitted “wiped the floor with us” by introducing customer service improvements earlier. The airline launched a series of initiatives in the quarter aimed at improving customer experience, including a 24-hour grace period to correct minor booking errors, reduced airport and bag fees, a free small second carry-on bag and new service to cater for group and business bookings.

It also now offers allocated seating on all flights for free, although passengers can pay €5 to pick their preferred seat. Ryanair says sales of reserved seats have “grown significantly” and it now expects revenues from this to exceed the losses from cutting fees elsewhere.

Ryanair says it plans to continue rolling out improvements including a new website, mobile app, mobile boarding passes and a new business travel product. It is also focusing on increased distribution having signed up to Google’s Flight Search tool and is looking to ink similar deals with other services.

Do you have a great travel marketing case study from 2013 to shout about? Then why not enter the Marketing Week Engage Awards? Find full details here.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email customerservices@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here