Ryanair half-year profits up 18%

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Irish budget carrier Ryanair has turned in a post-tax profit of €237 million ($280 million) for the half year, an 18% increase on the interim figure for 2004.

For the six months ending 30 September the carrier generated a one-third rise in revenues to €946 million as passenger numbers climbed by 29% to reach 18 million.

Unit costs increased by 8% largely as a result of the sharp rise in fuel costs. Fuel expenditure was up by 108% to €237 million; the carrier points out that its fuel was unhedged for almost the entire half-year. Excluding fuel expenses, says the airline, unit costs fell by 7%.

Yields were 3% higher than last year, which Ryanair attributes to the traffic generated by its maintaining a low-fare policy and not raising ticket prices with fuel surcharges.

“This record traffic and profits reflects the continued successful roll-out of Ryanair’s lowest fare model, despite difficult trading conditions characterised by record high fuel prices and intense competition,” says Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary.

“We have again reaffirmed our commitment not to impose fuel surcharges on our passengers and reaped the benefits of this strategy in terms of significant traffic growth and slightly higher yields during the half-year.”

Ryanair’s full-year net profit guidance remains unchanged. The carrier continues to remain “cautious” in its outlook for the second half of the financial year. It expects third-quarter yields to be “broadly in line” with last year’s figures and for those in the fourth quarter to fall by 5-10%.