VIDEO: O’Leary explains fleet decision as targets rise

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Ryanair has upped its growth target and revealed plans to return €1 billion ($1.3 billion) to shareholders, a day after chief executive Michael O'Leary arrived at Le Bourget to confirm a 175-aircraft Boeing order.

The Irish budget carrier had been aiming to boost passenger numbers of 100 million per annum for the financial year ending March 2019, but has raised that goal to 110 million. Projected annual growth has been adjusted from 5% to 7%.

Meanwhile, "at least" €400 million in share buybacks is planned for the current financial year, and up to $600 million in either buybacks or special dividends for next year, though the carrier adds the caveat that this is "subject to current fuel, yields and profitability trends continuing".

When O'Leary ended his self-imposed quarter-century exile from the air-show circuit yesterday, Flightglobal took the opportunity to quiz him about his reasons for choosing Boeing 737-800s over Airbus narrowbodies. Click above for our video interview.