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Michael O'Leary Photo by: DPA

Ryanair has last laugh with huge hike in profits

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Michael O'Leary Photo by: DPA

Michael O’Leary, chief executive of the Irish airline Ryanair, has announced a net profit of $375 million as of March 31 after a net loss of $207.7 million last year.

This massive boost in profit is said to be from the new routes introduced by the airline and dramatically lower fuel costs.

O’Leary said that it would give a $613.7 million dividend to shareholders for the first time in the company’s 24-year history.

He plans to give this $613.7 million to shareholders if Ryanair does not do a deal with Boeing to purchase more planes by 2013.

Though O’Leary has become a figure in Ireland who people love to hate, with a foul mouth and notoriously abrasive management methods, it cannot be argued that he is doing nothing right when you see a profit margin this large.

Over the last number of years O’Leary has demonstrated himself to be a fearless businessman regularly doing battle with the Irish Government.

Recently, he confronted the Irish Government over the $12.30 air travel tax on Ireland. He also regularly refers to the Dublin and British Airport Authorities as monopolies.

He acts like the general of an army in the way he performs business. In the past he has attempted to buy out his struggling rival airline Aer Lingus on two separate occasions.

Though, so far, he has been unsuccessful in these attempts at buying out the competition he still remains on top as airlines, once at the top of their games, such as Aer Lingus and British Airways are struggling.

O’Leary certainly knows his way around finances and regularly speaks out on how the Fianna Fail party has ruined the country’s finance, to the great annoyance of Prime Minister Brian Cowen. Cowen could do worse than looking to O’Leary for advice.

O’Leary is predicting net profits for 2011 rising by 10 percent to 15 percent.
He also expects traffic to rise to 73.5 million next year. Though traffic in Dublin Airport fell by 13 percent this year Ryanair continues to rise.

The only reason these numbers could be changed is due to the continuously erupting volcano in Iceland.

Ireland was the worst effected European country with closures dictated by European airspace authorities as the ash cloud filled the sky.

O’Leary said most of the closures were unnecessary and estimated that the ash cloud would cost his airline $61.4 million.

While thousands of passengers had their travel plans disrupted, O’Leary spoke out against the “EU 261” regulations. This states that grounded passengers due to cancelled flights must be reimbursed for hotel and food receipts.

O’Leary viewed this as “manifestly unfair, disproportionate and discriminatory regulation.”

Some might say that O’Leary’s constant public presence is all an act, a way of keeping Ryanair in the press, however when he’s put to the test he certainly knows how to deal with tricky situations.

Last year ,O’Leary held a press conference where an environmental campaigner had gate crashed and planned to cause a disruption. O’Leary spotted him in the crowd and instead of causing a scene invited the man to speak, diffusing a situation which might otherwise have caused Ryanair bad press.

Though the people of Ireland have a love-hate relationship with O’Leary, they also realize that he’s a canny businessman who knows how to handle himself.

The fact he will walk away with a $24.6 million dividend payout during the worst financial year that Ireland has seen in decades speaks volumes.

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