Budget carrier Ryanair falls to loss in third quarter as it cuts fares to keep planes full

LONDON – Ryanair’s strategy of cutting fare prices to keep planes full is costing it.

Europe’s largest budget airline suffered a net loss of 35.2 million euros ($47.5 million) in the last three months of 2013, compared with a profit of 18.1 million euros a year earlier.

It reduced fares by an average of 9 per cent in the quarter, the third of its fiscal year. That helped it attract 18.3 million passengers, up 6 per cent on the year.

The figures Monday came after a profit warning in November, when the airline pledged to maintain discounts.

Ryanair is trying to change its corporate culture after customer criticism. The airline introduced fully assigned seating this week — a change from a model that required customers to form lengthy lines and scramble for seats.