RYANAIR yesterday blamed the spiralling cost of jet fuel for a 28 per cent fall in pre-tax profits to €112.5m (£87.9m) for the quarter.
The budget airline said its fuel costs had risen 27 per cent on last year to a whopping €544m, accounting for almost half of all operating expenses.
Even hedging 90 per cent of its fuel costs for the year to March cannot offset the surge in market prices – it has hedged at around $1,000 per tonne, or 21 per cent up on last year.
Ryanair said revenues rose 11 per cent to €1.28bn in the quarter, and it maintained its full-year profit forecast of between €400m and €440m.
Ancillary sales, such as baggage fees and onboard snacks, rose 15 per cent to €286m.
However, the rocky economic outlook for Europe looks set to hinder further fares growth this year, the firm warned.
“There is no sign of a European-wide economic recovery. There doesn’t seem to be any light at the end of the tunnel,” chief financial officer Howard Millar said.
The firm did not comment on its bid to take over Aer Lingus, the Irish flag carrier that reports its interim results today. Ryanair shares dipped in early trade, but recovered to close up 2.2 per cent at €4.