Ryanair raises hopes after its profits decline

 
Marion Dakers
RELIEVED Ryanair investors yesterday took the budget airline’s shares 10.6 per cent higher after the firm’s first fall in profits for five years was less steep than expected.

The Irish airline said net profits fell eight per cent in the year to the end of March to €523m (£426m), slightly above its own prediction of up to €520m.

Revenues rose three per cent to just over €5bn, though this was outpaced by a five per cent rise in costs.

Average fares fell four per cent, as Ryanair slashed some prices to try to stir up demand.

The firm expects fares to rise two per cent this year and profits to rise “significantly” to as much as €620m, though it remains “very cautious” about giving guidance for the winter when extra capacity could end up denting its prices again.

Ryanair also said it will spend €35m on advertising and marketing in the coming year, as part of chief executive Michael O’Leary’s ambition to present the airline as more customer-friendly and, in his words, “stop unnecessarily pissing people off”.

The firm posted a 17 per cent rise in ancillary revenues to €1.25bn for the past year, in small part due to the introduction of allocated seating in February.

“While disappointing that profits fell eight per cent... we reacted quickly to this weaker environment last September by lowering fares and improving our customer experience,” O’Leary said. “We expect this combination of a strong first half but a weaker second half will generate a significant rise in after-tax profits.”

RYANAIR’S FIRST FALL IN PROFITS FOR FIVE YEARS

EIGHT PER CENT
How much Ryanair’s net profits fell in the financial year. It still made €523m, beating forecasts.

€35M
Ryanair’s marketing budget for this year, up from €10m a year ago. This works out at around €0.50 per passenger.

€500M
The amount Ryanair plans to return to investors this year, after a €482m buyback last year

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