Ryanair has reported a ten per cent increase in full year profit after tax to €1.45 billion.
The low-cost carrier said lower fares, which were down by an average of three per cent, stimulated traffic growth to over 130 million guests last year.
The airline also saw an industry leading 95 per cent load factor.
Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary said: “We are pleased to report a ten per cent increase in profits, with an unchanged net margin of 20 per cent, despite a three per cent cut in air fares during a year of overcapacity in Europe, leading to a weaker fare environment, rising fuel prices, and the recovery from our September 2017 rostering management failure.”
A shortage of pilots in September force the carrier to cancel hundreds of flights.
Traffic grew nine per cent last year, to over 130 million passengers, with Germany, Italy and Spain being the three largest growth markets.
“We expect above average EU capacity growth to continue into financial 2019,” said O’Leary, “which will have a downward effect on fares.”
“This may be partly ameliorated by the switch of some charter capacity back to previously security challenged markets such as Turkey and Egypt.”
Ryanair said it expect some upward pressure on pricing later in the year as significantly higher oil prices impact margins, especially at those EU airlines which continue to expand despite having “no prospect of achieving profitability”.
The carrier last year delivery of 50 new B737 planes and increased its Boeing order to 135 firm MAX-200 Gamechangers, with a further 75 under option (210 in total).
The carrier opened four bases in Burgas, Memmingen, Naples, and Poznan and launched over 260 new routes.
Ryanair said it remained concerned at the likely impact of a hard Brexit.
While there is a general belief that an 18-month transition agreement from March 2019 to December 2020 will be implemented and further extended, Ryanair said, it is in the best interest of shareholders that it continues to plan for a hard Brexit in March 2019.
“In these circumstances, it is likely that our UK shareholders will be treated as non-EU and this could potentially affect Ryanair’s licencing and flight rights.
“Accordingly, in line with our Articles, we intend to restrict the voting rights of all non-EU shareholders in the event of a hard Brexit, so that we can ensure that Ryanair is majority owned and controlled by EU shareholders at all times to comply with our licences.
“This would result in non-EU shareholders not being able to vote on shareholder resolutions.
“In the meantime, we have applied for a UK AOC which we hope to receive before the end of 2018,” explained Ryanair.