Ryanair has reported its first third quarter loss since 2010 as it cut fares to boost demand over winter.
The low cost carrier made a loss after tax of €35.2m (£29m) for the three months to December 31 compared to a €18.1m post-tax profit during the same period in 2012.
Although airlines usually make losses over the winter, it is the first time Ryanair has made a third quarter loss since 2010.
Passenger numbers during the period increased 6pc to 18.3 million but revenue dipped to €964m from €969m previously as revenue per passenger fell 6pc.
The carrier, which issued two shock profit warnings in the autumn, grew ancillary charges – which include food and drink onboard – but fares declined 9pc.
Ryanair is facing growing competition from expanding low cost rivals such as Vueling and Norwegian and has also admitted easyJet “wiped the floor with us” by introducing customer service improvements much earlier.
The airline is still guiding towards full year profits of around €510m – a figure which was revised down twice following profit warnings in September and November.
Ryanair chief executive, Michael O’Leary, said the third quarter loss was “in line” with previous guidance.
Mr O’Leary, who is known for his colourful outbursts, is taking a step back from the public spotlight as Ryanair introduces a more corporate image. It has rolled out a raft of customer service improvements including, most recently, the introduction of fully allocated seating across all of its flights.
Michael Cawley, deputy chief executive, admitted that Ryanair had been “beaten by the competition”, speaking to Radio Four’s Today Programme on Monday morning.