Ryanair raises forecasts after strong demand

 
City A.M. Reporter
RYANAIR, Europe’s biggest budget airline, yesterday raised its full-year profit forecast after higher fares, lower than expected fuel costs and a surge in demand after the Olympics helped it beat first-half expectations.

The Ireland-based airline, waiting to hear whether EU regulators will approve its takeover of domestic peer Aer Lingus, also said it was benefiting from the demise of European rivals such as Spanair and Hungarian firm Malev.

Many airlines have been hit hard by Europe’s struggling economy and high fuel costs. Ryanair has fared better than most, thanks to its size and focus on low costs and low prices.

“It was a strong performance after the Olympic Games, we certainly saw an upward rise in average fares. Many people who appeared to stay at home ... came back in force post the Olympic Games,” finance chief Howard Millar said.

Ryanair said its fares rose six per cent in the six months ended September, while passenger numbers surged seven per cent.

As a result, it lifted its profit forecast for the year ending March 2013 to €490-520m (£392m-£416m) from its previous guidance of €400-440m.

Ryanair said its first-half net profit rose to €596m from €544m a year ago and ahead of analyst expectations at €564m. Revenue jumped 15 per cent to €3.1bn.

Ryanair makes most of its money from leisure travellers and normally records a loss in its seasonally quieter second half.