Budget airline Ryanair has beaten forecasts again, reporting full-year net profits of €867m, 66pc higher than the year before.
Europe’s leading airline says it filled 88pc of its seats, up five points, in the fiscal year ending in March. Sales rose 12pc to €5.65bn, chiefly because of relentless route expansion combined with the impact of the airline’s 2014 decision to improve customer service.
Profits would have been higher if it weren’t for Ryanair’s policy of buying fuel contracts in advance.
That locked in last year’s higher oil prices. The airline says it negotiated cheaper contracts through 2017.
Ryanair carried 90.6 million passengers in fiscal 2015 and aims to break the 100 million mark in the coming year.
Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary said the customer services programme had attracted “millions of new customers”.
“Our AGB (Always Getting Better) programme is transforming our customer experience, our service, and the way we listen and respond to our customers. We have won substantial traffic and share gains in all markets,” he added.
The group had increased its guidance for the full-year figures five times ahead of the results and predicted post-tax profits of between €940m and €970m for the year to next March. But the group cautioned that it could face tough competition amid an industry-wide move to slash prices, which could impact its business over the winter season.
“It would be foolish not to expect some irrational pricing response from competitors who cannot compete with our lowest costs and fares,” it said.
Falling oil prices have also provided a boost, with the group reporting an 11pc fuel saving per passenger. Ryanair also said forward bookings were 4pc ahead of a year earlier.
The company has rolled out a raft of initiatives to win over fliers, including allocated seating, new seats with more legroom, improved in-flight meals, extra carry-on luggage and more business-friendly schedules.
Shares leapt more than 4pc after the results.