Ryanair pays out €500m as earnings leap

RYANAIR is to pay out a €500m (£417m) dividend to shareholders after the budget airline saw profits for the year soar by 204 per cent.

Subject to approval, the Ireland- based airline said yesterday that it would be in a position to make the €500m return to shareholders through either share buy-backs or a one-off dividend payment.

Ryanair said it anticipates it will make the payment, which will see chief executive Michael O’Leary receive €20m for the four per cent of shares he owns in the airline, in October following a shareholder vote the month before.

“Now is the appropriate time to do a dividend payment,” said O’Leary yesterday morning. He explained that the payout was possible because Ryanair last year pulled out of plans to do a deal with Boeing that would have seen the airline buy up to 200 new aircraft.

Ryanair also surpassed many rivals last year as profits trebled to €319m.

According to the airline, the rise in profits were due to lower fuel costs, which were partially offset by a 13 per cent decline in average fares during the year.

More than 66m passengers flew with the budget airline last year, representing a 14 per cent increase from the previous year.

However, Ryanair took a €50m hit from the Iceland volcano disruptions, which caused 9,400 flight cancellations for the airline alone and the loss of 1.5m passengers.

The airline expects to pay out €300m in rising fuel costs next year, but it expects passenger numbers to climb by 11 per cent and fare prices to increase between five and 10 per cent.