Ryanair posts near record FY profit, summer demand robust

A Ryanair Boeing 737 aircraft approaches Paris-Beauvais airport in Tille12

DUBLIN, May 22 (Reuters) – Ryanair (RYA.I) on Monday posted a near record profit of 1.43 billion euros ($1.57 billion) in the year to end-March and said it was cautiously optimistic that profits would rise modestly in the next 12 months, with summer demand notably robust.

The Irish airline, Europe's largest by passenger numbers, expects summer European short-haul capacity to remain below pre-COVID levels, with peak fares trending ahead of last year, and that a continued squeeze on capacity would benefit Ryanair.

"The large backlog of OEM (original equipment manufacturer)aircraft deliveries is likely to constrain capacity growth in Europe for at least four more years which confers a considerable growth premium on Ryanair's remaining 110 (Boeing) B737 Gamechangers deliveries over the next three summers," Chief Executive Officer Michael O'Leary said.

"Our widening unit cost advantage over all competitors, our fuel hedging, strong balance sheet and our very low-cost aircraft order book, as well as our proven operational resilience, creates enormous growth opportunities for Ryanair over the coming years."

The low cost carrier flew a record 168.6 million passengers in the year through March 31, beating its previous annual record of 149 million reached before the pandemic. It reiterated that it hoped to grow traffic to 185 million this fiscal year.

However, it said recent Boeing delivery delays may push some of that growth into the lower yielding second half and may reduce the target slightly. It expects to be short up to 10 new jets in June and July.

Ryanair hiked its after-tax profit forecast to 1.325 billion to 1.425 billion euros in January after stronger than expected Christmas traffic and fares. The final number compared with a forecast of 1.398 billion euros in a company poll of analysts.

It made a loss of 355 million euros in the previous pandemic-hit financial year and the turnaround came close to topping the record 1.45 billion euro profit Ryanair made in the year to March 31, 2018.

($1 = 0.9084 euros)

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