RYANAIR has reported record annual profits of almost half a billion euro – up 25pc on the previous year.
The airline posted a net profit of €503m for the year to the end of March compared to €401m reported in March 2011. It was slightly up on the forecast of €491m.
Revenues for the year increased by 19pc to €4.325bn from €3.630bn and passenger numbers grew by 5pc from 72.1m to 75.8m.
A 30pc jump in fuel costs was offset by a 16pc rise in average fares, partly due to the grounding of 80 aircraft over the winter, while ancillary revenues such as in-flight sales surged 11pc to €886.2 million.
However the airline warned that growing fuel costs and the poor economic outlook for Europe meant profits were likely to fall in 2012.
"We remain concerned about next winter as we have zero yield visibility but expect recession, austerity, currency concerns and lower fares at new and growing bases in Hungary, Poland, provincial UK and Spain will make it difficult to repeat this year's record results," Ryanair's chief executive Michael O'Leary said.
Ryanair expects passenger numbers to rise by another 5pc this year but with its fuel bill increasing by another €320m it has warned profits this year were likely to be in the range of €400m and €440m.
Mr O'Leary said the combination of rising oil prices and EU-wide recession would continue to hurt the sector following the failures over the last year of Malev in Hungary, Spanair and Cimber Sterling in Denmark.
He added: "We expect more European failures in 2012, as higher oil prices and recession continues to expose failed airline models as well as subscale or peripheral carriers."
Mr O'Leary said that despite the rising number of airline failures, many of Europe's governments continued to treat the sector and airline passengers as a "cash cow" to fund their taxation.