Ryanair has blamed a faster than expected fall in fares and the slump in the pound since the Brexit vote as it reported an 8% fall in quarterly profits.
The low-cost airline said fares had fallen by 17% to an average €33 per passenger in the last three months of 2016 as it expanded in European markets.
Chief executive Michael O’Leary – who strongly backed a Remain vote – said this impact was “exacerbated by the sharp decline in sterling following the Brexit vote”.
Ryanair reported a fall in profit to €95m (£82m) for the third quarter to the end of December.
Revenues rose 1% to €1.34bn (£1.16bn) as passenger numbers increased 16% to 24.9 million but profit margins slipped. Shares fell 2%.
A weaker pound means that fares paid by UK customers translate into lower income for Dublin-based Ryanair – which is Europe’s largest airline by passenger numbers.
Sterling is more than 10% down against the euro since the Brexit vote.
Mr O’Leary said: “We continue to grow capacity, new routes and bases, at a time when other EU airlines are also adding capacity, and accordingly the price environment remains weak.”
He added that fares were falling “faster than we initially planned”.
There would be further downward pressure on prices to come amid uncertainty after the Brexit vote, weak sterling and flights being switched from North Africa and Turkey to Spain and Portugal.
Travel operators have been switching destinations to the western Mediterranean after terrorism and political instability weakened demand elsewhere.
Mr O’Leary said there was still uncertainty about what Brexit would mean and this would “continue to represent a challenge for our business” for the rest of the year and into 2018.
Ryanair still expects to see a modest increase in profits for the current financial year but said this “heavily depends on the absence of any unforeseen security events”.
Airlines have been struggling in recent months with demand hit by a series of terror attacks as well as the impact of the Brexit vote.
Ryanair’s rival easyJet last month said it faced a £105m hit from the fall in the pound.