Ryanair is to “pivot” growth away from UK airports and instead focus on hubs in the European Union following the Brexit referendum result.
The budget airline said the decision by Britain to quit the European Union was “a surprise and a disappointment”, adding: “We will pivot our growth away from UK airports and focus more on growing at our EU airports over the next two years.
“This winter we will cut capacity and frequency on many London Stansted routes (although no routes will close) where we are already significantly ahead of our multi-year traffic growth targets.”
Ryanair also flagged that the vote result will mean lower economic growth, weaker consumer confidence and put downward pressure on fares until the end of 2017 “at least”.
The company said there could be further implications if the UK is unable to negotiate access to the single market and the open skies regulatory framework currently in place across the EU.
However, the carrier added that it could benefit if “our UK registered competitors are no longer permitted to operate intra-EU routes, or must divest their majority ownership of EU registered airlines”.
The company made the remarks alongside first-quarter results, which saw net income rise 4% to 256 million euro and revenue rise 2% to 1.69 billion euro.
Ryanair said it was hit by market volatility arising from terrorist events and repeated air traffic control strikes in the period, particularly in France, which caused almost 1,000 flight cancellations.
Robin Byde, analyst at Cantor Fitzgerald, said: “The company is cautious on the impact of Brexit and we expect it to continue to offer deep discounts through the rest of the year to keep cabins full.
“Nonetheless, these results demonstrate the resilience of the Ryanair business model and we expect consensus forecast to be unchanged at this time.”