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Ryanair profits rise despite cancellations crisis
[LONDON] Ireland's troubled Ryanair said Monday that quarterly net profits rose 12 per cent, despite a flight cancellations crisis that was sparked by pilot rostering problems.
Profit after taxation increased to 106 million euros (S$173.8 million) in the group's third quarter or three months to December from a year earlier, the Dublin-based carrier said in a statement.
Passenger numbers grew six percent to 30.4 million people despite the cancellations fiasco.
"We are pleased to report this 12-per cent increase in profits during a very challenging third quarter," said chief executive Michael O'Leary.
The outspoken boss then acknowledged "our pilot rostering failure in September".
Ryanair suffered a troubled end to 2017, being forced to cancel 20,000 flights through to March this year, mainly because of botched holiday scheduling for pilots.
The results on Monday came one week after Ryanair signed an agreement to recognise the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA), reversing its historic hostility towards trade unions.
The carrier, which suffered major turbulence in recent months from aggrieved staff, announced earlier this month that its UK-based pilots had accepted pay increases of up to 20 per cent.
"It became clear in December that a majority of pilots wanted to be represented by unions," added Mr O'Leary in the earnings release.
"In keeping with our policy to recognise unions when the majority of our people wanted it, we have met pilot unions in Ireland, UK, Spain, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Belgium and France to discuss how we can work with them on behalf of our people.
"We have successfully concluded our first recognition agreement with BALPA in the UK, a market which accounts for over 25 per cent of our pilots." The cancellations fiasco triggered pilots' demands for better working conditions and representation, with some departing for other carriers.