Ryanair has reported record profits and passenger numbers for the year ending 31 March but warned that soaring fuel prices would lead to flat figures over the next twelve months and the possibility of it grounding aircraft.
The low-cost airline flew 72m passengers, an 8 percent rise year-on-year, pre-tax profits climbed to €450.6m from €420.9m, on revenues €503.4m higher at €2.8bn.
Inflight sales were up 21 percent to €802m, and now contribute to 22 percent of total revenue.
Chief Executive, Michael O’Leary, warned that average fares are expected to rise by up to 12 percent, but that this would only cover higher fuel costs.
He said the airline “remains concerned at the impact of the recession, austerity measures, and falling consumer confidence on fares”.
Over the past year Ryanair has added 40 aircraft, bringing its fleet 272, eight new bases and 328 new routes.
O’Leary warned that the price of fuel would lead to “further consolidations, increased competitor losses, and more airlines going broke”.
However he noted that the airline is 90 percent hedged for 2012 at $820 per tonne – approximately $82 per barrel – a 12pc price increase on last year, but “significantly below current prices”.
O’Leary said he hoped the latest ash cloud would cause less disruption than the last year’s when European airspace was closed for six days and transatlantic flights hit.
Ryanair took a €29.7m hit as a result of last year’s eruption, including paying passengers compensation totalling €12.4m.