There’s money in low air fares – Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has just announced record profits at the budget Irish carrier.
The Westmeath native said that profits rose by 25 percent to almost $750million with revenue over $6billion, an increase of 19 per cent compared to the previous year.
The controversial CEO – who this weekend branded anti-Fiscal Treaty campaigners as lunatics – made the announcement on Monday.
He confirmed that the no-frills airline had managed to raise profits and revenue in the year up to March 31st, despite the recession.
O’Leary told investors that rising fares and passenger numbers helped offset the rising cost of fuel.
He did warn that profit would fall in the coming year as Europe’s economic slowdown continues.
Ryanair carried 5 per cent more passengers with a total of 75.8 million for the year despite grounding up to 80 aircraft last winter.
The company opened six new bases and added 330 new routes as it moved to take advantage of gaps in the market left by the closure of airlines such as Hungary’s Malev and Spanair.
“We expect more European failures in 2012, as higher oil prices and recession continues to expose failed airline models as well as subscale or peripheral carriers,” O’Leary said in a statement.
“While average fares were up 16 per cent, unit costs showed 13 per cent growth as fuel costs rose by 30 per cent land sector length was 6 per cent higher.
“We predict further airline failures as a result of rising fuel prices.
“However, Ryanair is expecting its own traffic to rise by 5 per cent next year, bringing its total passengers to 79 million. Most of that growth will be in the first half of the year, when traffic will grow 7 per cent, followed by a 3 per cent rise in the second half.
“We remain concerned about next winter as we have zero yield visibility but expect recession, austerity, currency concerns and lower fares at new and growing bases in Hungary, Poland, Provincial UK, and Spain will make it difficult to repeat this year’s record results.
“We expect that any increase in fares will only partially offset higher fuel costs.”