Saudi Arabia reports first swine flu death


Ryanair's boss says tough times are ahead.
Saudi Arabia has had its first death from swine flu, its Ministry of Health said Monday, bracing for more.

The Irish airline, which boosts revenues by billing for baggage, snacks and even checking in, announced a first quarter profit increase of 550 percent — or $195 million — crediting a drop in fuel prices and increased traffic for the growth. But despite bullish promises of expansion, Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary warned that the full year outlook remained gloomy with a fierce price war likely to result in a yield decline of more than 20 percent. “Most of our competitors have recently reported declining traffic, falling yields and substantial losses. This is accelerating the pace of airline closures and consolidations,” O’Leary said in a statement. “Our successful roll out of new routes and bases demonstrates the fundamental strength of Ryanair’s lowest fares model which even during deep recession continues to deliver growth.”

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European carriers AirFrance-KLM and British Airways are expected to post losses when they report quarterly results later this week. BA has been in talks with staff over pay cuts that it says are necessary to keep the airline flying. O’Leary again hit out at aviation taxes imposed by Britain — the airline’s biggest market — and high charges levied by airport operator BAA, which he said were strangling the country’s tourism industry. Ryanair earlier this month said it planned to cut 30 percent of its flights this winter, blaming “insane” UK aviation taxes. BAA shrugged off the cuts as “business as usual”, pointing out Ryanair routinely trims its winter schedule.

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