Belfast Telegraph

Ryanair warns of financial turbulence up ahead

By Jamie Grierson

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary admitted that the low-cost airline was braced for a difficult winter as austerity measures and the eurozone crisis hit demand.

The Dublin-based carrier, which operates more than 1,500 flights a day across 28 countries, is expecting traffic growth of 1% between September and March, down from 7% this summer following winter capacity cuts, Mr O'Leary said.

The outlook came as the airline, which expects to carry 79m passengers this year, reported an 11% rise in revenues in the quarter to June 30 to €1.3bn (£1bn) as 6% traffic growth combined with a 4% rise in average fares.

However, Mr O'Leary said a 27% surge in fuel costs was behind a 29% slide in underlying pre-tax profits to €99m (£77.5m) in the period. Ryanair reported a 15% rise in ancillary sales - which includes baggage and administration fees, as well as in-flight food and drink - to €286m (£223.9m). Ancillary sales now account for 22% of all revenues.

The carrier, which has a fleet of 294 planes, said growth in the first quarter was dampened by the recession across Europe.