Irish low-cost airline Ryanair ignored the downward trend of many of its bigger rivals in its half-year results released on 5 November, announcing sharp rises in traffic, revenue and profits for the six months to 30 September.

Traffic rose to 5.3 million, 37% up from last year; revenue rose to €344.2 million ($385 million), up 29%; and profits after tax amounted to c88 million, up 39%. The figures appear to justify Ryanair's ambitious expansion plans - the company plans to acquire another 50 used Boeing 737s in the next five years to add to its current fleet of 21 737-200s and 15 737-800s.

The low-cost sector has so far seemed largely untouched by the slump in the airline market.Ryanair's competitor EasyJet has also seen traffic and profits rise, especially since the start of the war in Afghanistan.

However, Ryanair's yield continued to fall, down 6% - due to increased emphasis on fare cutting to ensure high load factors. While EasyJet has started to focus on cost-conscious business travellers, Ryanair continues to go after the discretionary leisure market, where cost is an absolute priority. To maintain profits, Ryanair must continue to expand and cut costs, which will mean taking market share from established carriers. Fortunately for Ryanair, the slowdown means that other carriers are losing passengers and abandoning maintenance contracts, aircraft, landing slots and routes, which Ryanair can acquire more cheaply.

Source: Flight International