Fuel savings help Ryanair cut loss
Dublin-based budget airline Ryanair raised its annual profit predictions after a sharp fall in fuel costs helped it narrow its quarterly losses.
Ryanair reported a shortfall of €11m in the three months to December 31, from €102m in the same period a year earlier.
Fuel costs were down 37pc in the quarter, while average fares dropped 12pc.
The carrier, which said it has benefited in the recession as its competitors struggle, aims to increase passenger numbers by 10pc to 73 million in 2011 as it moves into routes vacated by its rivals.
Ryanair, which launched a series of low promotional fares in the quarter, said passenger numbers rose 14pc to 16 million.
The airline - led by flamboyant boss Michael O'Leary - said fares had dropped in the period due to the recession, price promotions and currency fluctuations between the pound and the euro. Ancillary revenues - such as charges for extra services - grew more slowly than passenger numbers at 6pc as customers avoided excess baggage costs.
Ryanair now expects to make a full-year profit in the region of €275m - higher than previously thought after yields fell by less than expected.
This drop was driven by "deep cuts" in loss-making winter capacity at higher cost airports like Dublin and Stansted.
Ryanair dived into the red by €169.2m in the year to March last year amid huge rises in the cost of fuel.
The profit forecast hike comes after rival easyJet also predicted a substantial improvement in performance after passenger numbers jumped 9pc in its most recent quarter.