Ryanair lifts profit forecast by 10pc

Ryanair increased its 2011 profit forecast by 10 per cent, saying higher revenues per passenger mile would offset stubbornly high fuel prices.

Europe's largest budget airline, which released first-half results, said it had seen virtually no impact from the downturn in consumer confidence, but warned traffic would fall in the coming months as it grounded aircraft as a result of high fuel prices.

The airline, which flew over £70m passengers last year, said it expected to make a profit before tax of 440 million euros (£378m) for its 2011 financial year, up from its previous forecast of 400 million.

Yields - the keenly watched measure showing average revenue gained per mile per passenger - will grow at 14 per cent in the six months to March, up from 12 percent previously forecast.

"We are well booked for the coming months, fractionally ahead of where we were last year," said Chief Financial Officer Howard Millar. "So far we have not seen any impact from recession."

The airline earned 452 million euros in the six months to September, up 20 per cent from a year earlier, on revenues of 2.18bn euros.

Net profit before tax for the three months to September were 404m euros.

Ryanair closed on Friday at 3.65 euros per share, down 8 percent since the beginning of the year, compared with a fall of 23 per cent at rival low-cost carrier EasyJet.

Industry body IATA has said it expects airlines to suffer a weak end to the year due to waning consumer confidence, sluggish international trade and high fuel prices.

Lufthansa last week reported results battered by high fuel costs, while International Airline Group (on reported a 31 per cent fall in third-quarter profit.