Ryanair profit surges by 17 per cent

Ryanair has reported a 17 per cent surge in first half net profit and upgraded its full-year earnings guidance.

The low cost Irish airline now expects full-year net earnings to be in a range of 380m to 400m euros (£328m to £345.3m) compared with previous guidance of 350m to 375m euros.

The rosier outlook comes on the heels of raised earnings expectations across the sector with leading flag carriers Lufthansa and Air France-KLM last week citing improving revenues and robust bookings.

Ryanair has exploited the recession to expand at the expense of higher-cost rivals in Europe and the group said consumers would continue to trade down.

Chief Executive Michael O'Leary said: "We continue to gain market share across Europe. We expect this trend to continue."

Ryanair said net profit for the six months to the end of September was 452m euros on the back of a 23 per cent increase in revenues.

The airline cut its estimate of the costs of refunding tickets on flights cancelled as a result of the Icelandic volcano to 32mveuros from 50m.

Most of Ryanair's growth comes from the continent and it is reducing capacity in recession-weary Ireland, blaming a tourist tax introduced last year as part of government austerity measures.

"We have again cut our Dublin winter capacity by 15 percent and have switched more aircraft to other European countries which have scrapped tourist taxes and cut airport charges," O'Leary said.