Ryanair says annual profits soar
Irish no-frills airline Ryanair said Tuesday that annual net profits surged by two thirds, boosted by improved customer services, rising sales and sliding oil prices.
Earnings after taxation leapt 66 percent to 866.7 million euros ($944.1 million) in the year to March 31, compared with 522.8 million euros in 2013/2014, Ryanair said in a results statement. That beat the company's own guidance of between 840-850 million euros.
Passenger numbers swelled 11 percent to 90.6 million and revenues grew 12 percent to 5.654 billion euros, as the airline also attracted more business customers.
Chief executive Michael O'Leary said the group's 'Always Getting Better' customer services programme "has attracted millions of new customers to Ryanair".
The overhaul -- which was launched in 2013 -- has sought to improve both the company's public image and the battered reputation of its customer services.
Ryanair has rolled out a raft of initiatives to win over fliers, including allocated seating, seats with more legroom, improved in-flight meals, a new website and app, extra carry-on luggage and more business-friendly schedules.
The airline also forecast Tuesday that 2015/2016 net profit would climb to a range between 940 million euros and 970 million euros.
In reaction to the raft of upbeat news, Ryanair's share price rallied by more than four percent in morning deals on the Dublin stock exchange.
"Ryanair has again exceeded forecasts. A rejuvenated customer offering has proved central, with net profit rising impressively," said equity analyst Keith Bowman at Hargreaves Lansdown Stockbrokers.
"The group's focus on squeezing costs remains core, whilst like rivals, initiatives to attract business customers continue to be pursued."
Separately, Ryanair repeated that its board would consider any offer from British Airways owner International Airlines Group for its near 30-percent stake in Aer Lingus.
London-listed IAG has bid 1.35 billion euros for Aer Lingus but needs the support of Ryanair, which is the biggest single shareholder in the former Irish national carrier.
Reports meanwhile suggested Tuesday that the Irish government might soon give its approval for the sale of its 25.1-percent stake to IAG.
The Irish Times said a government-commissioned report was understood to be "strongly supportive" of a sale.
© 2015 AFP