Double-digit profits rise for Ryanair

Ryanair revealed a 12 per cent hike in average fares and soaring ancillary revenues as it posted a double-digit rise in half-year profits today.

The low-cost carrier reported a 17 per cent increase in underlying net profits to 451.9 million euros (393.4 million) for the six months to September 30 and upped its guidance for its full-year performance.

Ryanair's half-year figures were boosted by a 10 per cent lift in passenger numbers and higher fares, but it said it also saw a 22 per cent leap in ancillary revenues, such as baggage fees, priority boarding and onboard drinks.

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Ryanair, which opened at Leeds-Bradford earlier this year, said forward booking revenues for the winter were better than expected, which it forecast would see net profits for the full year of between 380 million euros (331 million) and 400 million euros (348 million).

It had originally indicated a figure of between 350 million euros (305 million) and 375 million euros (326 million).

The half-year surge in fares and passenger numbers helped Ryanair offset a 44 per cent increase in its fuel bill - although this was also partly due to Ryanair operating more and longer flights.

Average fares rose to 44 euros (38), according to Ryanair, although chief executive Michael O'Leary added a note of caution.

He said: "Our outlook for the fiscal year remains cautious as we have little visibility on fourth-quarter yields."

The carrier said its bill to cover the cost of the volcanic ash cloud disruption earlier this year was now likely to be less than first feared, at 32 million euros (28 million) against 50 million euros (44 million).

Half-year adjusted profits exclude the hit for the ash crisis, which when taken into account leave net profits at 424 million euros (370 million).

Mr O'Leary said the group's half-year figures were "testimony to the robustness" of its low-cost model.

However, airlines across the board are seeing a marked recovery in air travel as the recovery takes hold.

British Airways last week returned to half-year profit for the first time in two years thanks to a bounce-back in business and premium traffic.