The London Olympics were a big boost to low-fares charger Ryanair, pushing business up to a €596 million profit after tax on a revenue turnover in the first six months of the year of a massive €3.11 billion.

Ryanair is currently attempting to take over rival airline Aer Lingus. The bid is being evaluated by European competition authorities, but Aer Lingus has urged shareholders to reject the offer, saying it undervalues the business.

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary said his company was “determined to explore all commercial options” to address any competition concerns the EU may have to secure approval for the merger.

Europe's biggest budget airline said this week it was also benefiting from the collapse of European rivals like Spanair and Hungary's 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.

Chief financial officer Howard Miller said, “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.”

The airline said its fares rose six percent in the six months ended September, while passenger numbers surged seven percent to a total of 49 million.

The high price of oil hit the airline, with fuel rising by 24 percent and leading to an eight percent rise in unit costs. When the impact of fuel prices was discounted, the rise was only two percent.

The company predicted market conditions in Europe would remain tough, with austerity measures, fuel costs and government charges weighing the demand for air travel.

A Ryanair statement said, “Further airline failures and consolidations are inevitable given the fragmentation among European airlines and the existence of so many high cost, high fare airlines with poor punctuality records.”

Looking ahead to the rest of the fiscal year, Ryanair said its traffic is expected to rise by four percent to more than 79 million, but the airline predicted flatter traffic in the second half of the year as high oil prices and seasonal demand restrictions caused it to ground up to 80 aircraft.

The company is targeting growth over the next 10 years, predicting it will carry up to 120 million passengers per annum within a decade.

Michael O'Leary chairman RyanairDPA