«As filed with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission on July 26, 2016 UNITED STATES SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION WASHINGTON, D.C. ...»
Promotional fares may have the effect of increasing load factors and reducing Ryanair’s yield and passenger revenues on such routes during the periods that they are in effect. Ryanair has other significant cash needs as it expands, including the cash required to fund aircraft purchases or aircraft deposits related to the acquisition of additional Boeing 737-800 and Boeing 737-MAX-200 series aircraft. There can be no assurance that Ryanair will have sufficient cash to make such expenditures and investments, and to the extent Ryanair is unable to expand its route system successfully, its future revenue and earnings growth will in turn be limited. See “—The Company Will Incur Significant Costs Acquiring New Aircraft and Any Instability in the Credit and Capital Markets Could Negatively Impact Ryanair’s Ability to Obtain Financing on Acceptable Terms” above.
Ryanair’s Continued Growth is Dependent on Access to Suitable Airports; Charges for Airport Access are Subject to Increase. Airline traffic at certain European airports is regulated by a system of grandfathered “slot” allocations. Each slot represents authorization to take-off and land at the particular airport at a specified time. As part of Ryanair’s recent strategic initiatives, which include more flights to primary airports, Ryanair is operating to an increasing number of slot coordinated airports, a number of which have constraints at particular times of the day. There can be no assurance that Ryanair will be able to obtain a sufficient number of slots at slot-coordinated airports that it may wish to serve in the future, at the time it needs them, or on acceptable terms. There can also be no assurance that its non-slot constrained bases, or the other non-slot constrained airports Ryanair serves, will continue to operate without slot allocation restrictions in the future. See “Item 4. Information on the Company—Government Regulation—Slots.” Airports may impose other operating restrictions such as curfews, limits on aircraft noise levels, mandatory flight paths, runway restrictions, and limits on the number of average daily departures. Such restrictions may limit the ability of Ryanair to provide service to or increase service at such airports.
Ryanair’s future growth also materially depends on its ability to access suitable airports located in its targeted geographic markets at costs that are consistent with Ryanair’s strategy. Any condition that denies, limits, or delays Ryanair’s access to airports it serves or seeks to serve in the future would constrain Ryanair’s ability to grow. A change in the terms of Ryanair’s access to these facilities or any increase in the relevant charges paid by Ryanair as a result of the expiration or termination of such arrangements and Ryanair’s failure to renegotiate comparable terms or rates could have a material adverse effect on the Company’s financial condition and results of operations. For example, in July 2012, the Spanish government increased airport taxes at the two largest airports, Barcelona and Madrid, by over 100%, while smaller increases were implemented at other Spanish airports. As a result, Ryanair cancelled routes and reduced capacity on remaining routes from Madrid and Barcelona in response to the Spanish government’s decision to double airport taxes at the two airports. The Italian government has recently increased the municipal taxes in Italy by €2.50. As a result, Ryanair was forced to close two Italian bases. From June 2016, the Norwegian government introduced a passenger travel tax of NOK80 (approximately €8.50) which resulted in Ryanair announcing the closure of its Oslo Rygge base with effect from late October 2016. For additional information, see “Item 4. Information on the Company—Airport Operations—Airport Charges.” See also “—The Company Is Subject to Legal Proceedings Alleging State Aid at Certain Airports”.
Labor Relations Could Expose the Company to Risk. A variety of factors, including, but not limited to, Ryanair’s profitability and its seasonal grounding policy, may make it difficult for Ryanair to avoid increases to salary levels and productivity payments. Consequently, there can be no assurance that Ryanair’s existing employee compensation arrangements will not be subject to change or modification at any time. These steps may lead to deterioration in labor relations in Ryanair and could impact Ryanair’s business or results. Ryanair also operates in certain jurisdictions with above average payroll taxes and employee-related social insurance costs, which could have an impact on the availability and cost of employees in these jurisdictions. Ryanair’s crew in continental Europe (with the exception of the U.K.) generally operate on Irish contracts of employment as they are required to do so under Irish tax law on the basis that those crew work mainly on Irish Territory, (i.e., on-board Irish Registered Aircraft). A number of challenges have been initiated by government agencies in a number of countries to the applicability of Irish labor law to these contracts, and if Ryanair were forced to concede that Irish jurisdiction did not apply to those crew who operate from continental Europe then it could lead to increased salary, social insurance and pension costs and a potential loss of flexibility. In relation to social insurance costs, the European Parliament implemented amendments to Regulation (EC) 883/2004 which, in the majority of jurisdictions, imposes substantial social insurance contribution increases for either or both Ryanair and the individual employees. While this change to social insurance contributions relates primarily to new employees, its effect in the long term may materially increase Company or employee social insurance contributions and could affect Ryanair’s decision to operate from those high cost locations, resulting in redundancies and a consequent deterioration in labor relations. For additional details see — “Change in EU Regulations in Relation to Employers and Employee Social Insurance Could Increase Costs” below.
Ryanair currently conducts collective bargaining negotiations with groups of employees, including its pilots and cabin crew, regarding pay, work practices, and conditions of employment, through collective-bargaining units called Employee Representative Committees (“ERC”). Following negotiations through this ERC system, pilots at all of Ryanair’s 84 bases are covered by four, five or six year collective agreements on pay, allowances and rosters which fall due for negotiation at various dates between 2017 and 2021. Cabin crew at all of Ryanair’s bases are also party to long term collective agreements on pay, allowances and rosters, which expire in March 2021. Limitations on Ryanair’s flexibility in dealing with its employees or the altering of the public’s perception of Ryanair generally could have a material adverse effect on Ryanair’s business, operating results, and financial condition. For additional details, see “Item 6. Directors, Senior Management and Employees—Staff and Labor Relations.” The Company is Dependent on External Service Providers. Ryanair currently assigns its engine overhauls and “rotable” repairs to outside contractors approved under the terms of Part 145, the European regulatory standard for aircraft maintenance established by the European Aviation Safety Agency (“Part 145”). The Company also assigns its passenger, aircraft and ground handling services at airports other than Dublin and certain airports in Spain (including the Canary Islands) and Portugal to established external service providers. See “Item 4. Information on the Company—Maintenance and Repairs—Heavy Maintenance” and “Item 4. Information on the Company—Airport Operations⎯Airport Handling Services.” The termination or expiration of any of Ryanair’s service contracts or any inability to renew them or negotiate replacement contracts with other service providers at comparable rates could have a material adverse effect on the Company’s results of operations. Ryanair will need to enter into airport service agreements in any new markets it enters, and there can be no assurance that it will be able to obtain the necessary facilities and services at competitive rates. In addition, although Ryanair seeks to monitor the performance of external parties that provide passenger and aircraft handling services, the efficiency, timeliness, and quality of contract performance by external providers are largely beyond Ryanair’s direct control. Ryanair expects to be dependent on such outsourcing arrangements for the foreseeable future.
The Company is Dependent on Key Personnel. Ryanair’s success depends to a significant extent upon the efforts and abilities of its senior management team, including Michael O’Leary, the CEO, and key financial, commercial, operating, IT and maintenance personnel. In October 2014, Mr. O’Leary signed a five year contract with the Company. This contract can be terminated by either party giving twelve months’ notice. See “Item 6. Directors, Senior Management and Employees—Compensation of Directors and Executive Officers—Employment and Bonus Agreement with Mr. O’Leary.” Ryanair’s success also depends on the ability of its executive officers and other members of senior management to operate and manage effectively, both independently and as a group. Although Ryanair’s employment agreements with Mr. O’Leary and several of its other senior executives contain noncompetition and non-disclosure provisions, there can be no assurance that these provisions will be enforceable in whole or in part. Competition for highly qualified personnel is intense, and either the loss of any executive officer, senior manager, or other key employee without adequate replacement or the inability to attract new qualified personnel could have a material adverse effect upon Ryanair’s business, operating results, and financial condition.
The Company Faces Risks Related to its Internet Reservations Operations and its Announced Elimination of Airport Check-in Facilities. Ryanair’s flight reservations are made through its website, mobile app and GDSs. Ryanair has established contingency programs which include hosting its website in three separate locations and having a backup booking engine available to support its existing booking platform in the event of a breakdown in this facility.
Nonetheless, the process of switching over to the back-up engine could take some time and there can be no assurance that Ryanair would not suffer a significant loss of reservations in the event of a major breakdown of its booking engine or other related systems, which, in turn, could have a material adverse effect on Ryanair’s operating results or financial condition.
Since October 1, 2009, all Ryanair passengers have been required to use Internet check-in. Internet check-in is part of a package of measures intended to reduce check-in lines and passenger handling costs and pass on these savings by reducing passenger airfares. Ryanair has deployed this system across its network. Any disruptions to the Internet check-in service as a result of a breakdown in the relevant computer systems or otherwise could have a material adverse impact on these service-improvement and cost-reduction efforts. There can be no assurance, however, that this process will continue to be successful or that consumers will not switch to other carriers that provide standard check-in facilities, which would negatively affect Ryanair’s results of operations and financial condition.
The Company Faces Risks Related to Unauthorized Use of Information from the Company’s Website.
Screenscraper websites gain unauthorized access to Ryanair’s website and booking system, extract flight and pricing information and display it on their own websites for sale to customers at prices which may include hidden intermediary fees on top of Ryanair’s fares. Ryanair does not allow any such commercial use of its website and objects to the practice of screenscraping also on the basis of certain legal principles, such as database rights, copyright protection, etc. Ryanair is currently involved in a number of legal proceedings against the proprietors of screenscraper websites in Ireland, Germany, The Netherlands, France, Spain, Italy and Switzerland. Ryanair’s objective is to prevent any unauthorized use of its website. Ryanair does allow certain companies who operate fare comparison (i.e. not reselling) websites to access its schedule and fare information for the purposes of price comparison provided they sign a license and use the agreed method to access the data. Ryanair also permits Travelport (trading as Galileo and Worldspan), Amadeus and Sabre, GDS operators, to provide access to Ryanair’s fares to traditional and corporate travel agencies.
Ryanair has received favorable rulings in Ireland and The Netherlands, and unfavorable rulings in Germany, Spain, France and Italy, in its actions against screenscrapers. However, pending the outcome of these legal proceedings and if Ryanair were to be ultimately unsuccessful in them, the activities of screenscraper websites could lead to a reduction in the number of customers who book directly on Ryanair’s website and consequently to a reduction in Ryanair’s ancillary revenue stream. Also, some customers may be lost to Ryanair once they are presented by a screenscraper website with a Ryanair fare inflated by the screenscraper’s intermediary fee. This could also adversely affect Ryanair’s reputation as a low-fares airline, which could negatively affect Ryanair’s results of operations and financial condition.