July 30 - Europe's biggest budget airline Ryanair, undershot analyst forecasts with a profit slide of 29 percent in the three months to June as it grappled with a toxic mix of austerity, recession and stubbornly high fuel prices. Hayley Platt reports.
A toxic mix of austerity, recession and soaring fuel prices has taken its toll on Europe's biggest budget airline. Net profits at Dublin-based Ryanair fell 29 percent to 99 million euros in the first quarter - missing analysts forecasts. But the company says it's sticking to its full year targets of between 400 - 450 million euros. The airlines chief financial officer, Howard Millar says there are tougher times ahead. SOUNDBITE: Michael Millar, chief financial officer, Ryanair, saying (English): "We've got the Spanish bailout coming. There's no sign of a European-wide economic recovery so at the moment there doesn't seem to be any light at the end of the tunnel." Ryanair's fuel bills rose by more than fifth despite buying most of their fuel in advance. To help cut costs the airline is planning to ground 80 of its 270 aircraft over the winter and increase fares by an average of 4 percent. But Millar said Ryanair was still on track to hit its growth targets for the year. SOUNDBITE: Michael Millar, chief financial officer, Ryanair, saying (English): "Our delivery programme is finishing at the end of this year so we will grow by 5 percent and 4 million passengers this year and we'll probably grow by another couple of million passengers in the following year but that's pretty much the near term growth plan." Ryanair's shares lost more than 5 percent in morning trade. Hayley Platt, Reuters.