Ryanair has reported a sharp increase in profits as a resurgent aviation sector continues to recover from the global recession.
Revenues for the six months to September 30th rose 23 per cent to €2.2 billion as traffic grew by ten per cent to 40.1 million passengers.
Average fares rose by 12 per cent over the period, while a sharp increase in fuel costs pushed unit costs at the airline up by 13 per cent.
“We continue to gain market share across Europe from the big three high fare flag carrier groups led by Air France, BA and Lufthansa,” said Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary.
In a characteristically upbeat release, Ryanair claimed to have overtaken Iberia in July to become the largest passenger carrier operating at Spanish airports.
The launch of a Barcelona (El Prat) base in September will be followed by similar ventures at Valencia and Seville November.
Looking forward, Ryanair said booking revenues for the winter were better than expected.
As a result the airline forecast net profits for the full year would fall between €380 million (£331 million) and €400 million (£348 million).
It had originally indicated a figure of between €350 million (£305 million) and 375 €million (£326 million).
Unit costs increased by 13 per cent over the period, primarily due to the 12 per cent growth in sector length and higher fuel costs.
Fuel costs rose by 44 per cent to €660 million due to the increased level of activity and higher prices.
Unit costs excluding fuel rose by 4 per cent, and sector length adjusted they fell by eight per cent, as the airline lowered aircraft ownership, airport and handling costs.
As a direct result of repeated Belgian, French and Spanish air traffic strikes and work to rules this year, Ryanair cancelled over 2,000 flights and delayed a further 12,000, disrupting over 2.5 million passengers.
In response Ryanair has again called on the European Union to redress the right to strike balance, claiming airlines are unfairly burdened with the costs of industrial action.
“We have called on the EU Commission to reform ATC by removing the right to strike for such an essential service at air traffic control, as well as deregulating Europe’s air traffic control services to allow non striking members to keep EU skies open,” explained a statement.
“These repeated government owned air traffic control strikes highlight the urgent need to reform EU261 regulations to relieve airlines of the right to care obligations, in such force majeure cases, which are clearly outside of airlines’ control.”