Irish no-frills airline Ryanair Monday forecast rising annual profits on higher traffic and lower fuel prices but at a slower rate than its last financial year. The company said net profit was set to rise by around 13 percent in the 12 months to the end of March 2017, as it predicted that passenger traffic would grow by 9.0 percent. Profit after tax had surged 43 percent to 1.242 billion euros ($1.395 billion) in 2015/16, Ryanair added in an earnings statement. It said average fares would fall by around 7.0 percent in the current financial year, as a result of recent terror attacks in Western Europe and thanks to lower fuel prices. "Ryanair has thrown down the gauntlet to its budget airline rivals promising further cuts in air fares as it bids to maintain its market share," noted AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould.
Michael O'Leary, chief executive of the Dublin-based airline, said pricing was being affected by the attacks on Brussels and Paris. "What terrorists always misunderstand is that it won't change customers' behaviour, but the airlines will respond with lower prices to keep people flying," he told reporters.
Ryanair repeated its support for Britain remaining part of the European Union, noting that a vote to leave the EU in the June 23 referendum "will damage economic growth and consumer confidence in the UK for the next two to three years".
The final quarter of its last financial year was hit also by the terrorist attacks in Brussels and strikes by air traffic controllers across Europe that resulted in the cancellation of more than 500 flights. It added that such strikes would impact its latest first-quarter performance.
But the airline still managed to carry more than 100 million passengers internationally during its last financial year that ended in March, a first for an airline, according to Ryanair.