Belfast Telegraph

Ryanair profits up thanks to increase in passengers

By John Mulgrew

Ryanair has seen its profits soar by 25% at the start of the year, just days after it was revealed the budget airline could be set for a grand return to Belfast.

Its profits were boosted in the first three months of the year, with the airline saying that it expected fares to fall in the winter as it adds new routes and bases.

The no-frills carrier said that lower oil prices and industry-wide discounting would lead winter fares to drop.

And the carrier is just one of a number of airlines which will be trying to snap up at least two daily flights between here and London Gatwick. IAG is required to relinquish some 10 daily slots as part of its takeover of Aer Lingus - and Gatwick flights from Belfast are currently operated by Aer Lingus.

Ryanair chief Michael O'Leary said that the airline "will certainly be bidding for the slots", while its chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs told the Belfast Telegraph it was in "discussions with both airports with a view to operating flights to/from Belfast in the future".

Meanwhile, speaking about its latest figures, Mr O'Leary said the airline would expand by 15% in the winter compared with last year as it opens routes, adding that he expected rivals to react by "putting downward pressure on fares".

The airline said profits jumped 25% to €245m (£175m), in the first quarter of the year to the end of June, compared with 12 months ago, as passenger numbers leapt 16% to 28 million in the period.

Mr O'Leary said that the carrier enjoyed a "very good" first three months of its year as it entered the second year of its Always Getting Better campaign, which bids to improve the firm's customer service.

The airline said its planes flew 92% full, up by 6% on a year ago, while average fares fell 4% to €45 (£32).

Ryanair is also set to take delivery of 31 new aircraft, and is opening new bases in Berlin and Gothenburg as well as starting flights to Israel for the first time.

It pulled its services from Belfast City Airport in 2010 following delays to a planned runway extension.

It was given the all-clear by the UK's Competition and Markets Authority earlier this month to sell its stake in Aer Lingus to IAG.

And while it was delays to a planned runway extension which ultimately led to it pulling out of Belfast five years ago, Ryanair has continued to reiterate its concerns over the UK's air passenger duty (APD).

The levy on flights often makes flying from the Republic a cheaper option for passengers.

"Ryanair is always interested in new routes.

"There is huge demand for Ryanair from customers in Northern Ireland who already travel with us from Dublin, because they get the lowest fares, a choice of 90 destinations and they avoid APD," the airline said.

Ryanair profits up thanks to increase in passengers

Belfast Telegraph