Ryanair reveals €1bn windfall for its investors

Marion Dakers
RYANAIR plans to return €1bn (£646m) to its investors by 2015 and increase its passenger numbers to 110m a year over the next five years, the budget airline told investors yesterday.

The Irish firm will complete at least €400m of share buybacks in the current financial year and pay the remaining €600m in either further buybacks or by issuing a special dividend, which would be the company’s third since 2010.

Ryanair has returned €1.5bn to shareholders since 2008, including a €492m special dividend during its last financial year.

The airline said it hopes to increase passenger numbers by seven per cent a year, up from its previous target of five per cent, and carry 110m passengers a year by 2019, up from a previous target of 100m.

Ryanair carried 79.6m passengers in the year to March 2013, making it the world’s biggest international airline by traffic numbers.

Michael O’Leary’s company this week finalised an order for 175 Boeing 737-800 planes, for delivery between 2014 and 2019.

The chief executive hinted at Paris Air Show that Ryanair could launch a long-haul service, providing it could get enough planes and landing slots.

O’Leary has made no secret of his transatlantic ambitions, but has long maintained that the service would be run as a separate company.

Ryanair’s announcements came after rival low-cost carrier EasyJet unveiled a £7bn plane order with Airbus, a third of which will be used to increase services.