Monday 7 November 2016 7:18 am

Ryanair reports hike in first half profit in the face of weaker sterling

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Ryanair has reported an increase in profits during the first half of 2016, despite what boss Michael O'Leary described as "difficult market conditions" in the aftermath of Britain's vote to leave the EU in June.

The figures

Revenue rose two per cent in the three months to 30 September, to €4.13bn (£3.68bn) from €4.04bn.

Profit after tax was up seven per cent, from €1.09bn this time last year to €1.17bn, and earnings per share rose 15 per cent to €0.92 from €0.80.

Customer numbers increased by 12 per cent, rising to 64.8m from 58.1m.

Shares in the company rose five per cent at the open.

Why it's interesting

Ryanair – and its chief exec O'Leary – was a vocal opponent to Brexit in the run up to the referendum, and in October the airline warned that the weakening of sterling that followed the vote would hit full year profits.

And since the UK voted to leave the EU, Ryanair has laid out plans to "pivot" growth away from Britain and towards other member states instead. 

Investors have been braced for a decline in profits – although analysts at Davy Group said the budget carrier's "business model and free cash flow generation still leaves Ryanair as the stand-out winner in the European airline industry".

What Ryanair said

O'Leary said the first half results represented a "creditable performance in difficult market conditions due to repeated air traffic controller strikes, terror events, and the adverse economic impact of the Brexit vote in June which saw Sterling weaken materially over the peak summer period".

In short

The weaker pound has left Ryanair down, but by no means out.