Ryanair raises profits outlook after steady third quarter

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Irish budget carrier Ryanair has further lifted its full-year profit guidance to €540 million ($727 million) after posting a better-than-expected net profit of €18.1 million for the third quarter.

Ryanair lifted revenues 15% to €969 million on a 3% increase in passengers for the period to 31 December to 17.3 million and an 8% rise in average fares. This helped offset an 11% increase in unit costs, mainly due to fuel costs up a quarter. Net profit of €18 million is €3 million higher than for the same stage last year.

"Our Q3 yields were boosted by stronger pre-Christmas bookings, while lower than expected operating costs delivered slightly better profits than forecast," the carrier says.

Passenger traffic in the fourth quarter will be around 400,000 passengers lower than last year as it grounds around 80 aircraft during the seasonally weak fourth quarter.

"On the basis of this improved Q3 result, our capacity cuts and limited visibility over Easter bookings and yields, (although we have seen some yield softness in January), we now expect our full year profits to exceed our previous guidance (of €490 million to €520 million) and rise close to €540m, a 7% increase on last year's profits," the airline says.

It marks Ryanair's second upgrade to its profit guidance in consecutive quarters, having previously suggested it would make full-year net profit in the range of €400 million to €440 million.