Profits soar at Ryanair


Irish low-cost airline Ryanair yesterday (Monday) reported first-half profits way ahead of City expectations as it shrugged off the impact of the September 11 atrocities.

The no-frills carrier posted pre-tax profits of 102.4 million Euros (65.1 million) for the six months to the end of September, 30 per cent up on last year.

Michael O'Leary, chief executive, said the results showed Ryanair was growing at a faster rate than any of its rivals in the budget sector.

Passenger numbers in the six months were up 37 per cent on the same period a year ago at 5.3 million after the airline launched 13 new routes in Europe.

Mr O'Leary said the tragic events in the US had not materially affected the business and had ''highlighted the opportunities'' for the airline.

Larger rivals such as BA, Alitalia and Aer Lingus were withdrawing from routes where they used to be a competitor, he said.

And he added: ''Ryanair is now being courted by many airports, some of whom would never have talked to us prior to September 11.''

The results come a week after Ryanair's rival, easyJet, reported an 81 per cent rise in full-year profits and revealed plans to raise 93 million for expansion.

Half-year figures due from BA tomorrow are likely to be in stark contrast to the success of its no-frills competitors, however.

BA could show a loss of up to 70 million before exceptional gains made from the disposal of Go after seeing passenger numbers fall back dramatically.

Mr O'Leary rounded on Europe's major flag-carriers saying many were using the September 11 attacks ''to cover their continuing losses''.