Ryanair has nudged up its annual profit forecast, saying fuller planes will take profits to the upper end of its previously estimated range. As Grace Pascoe reports that's despite winter competition putting pressure on average ticket prices.
Soaring profits on the horizon for Ryanair. The strong pound, cheap fuel and fuller planes have all helped the Irish airline raise its annual profit forecast. Which could now reach as high as 1.225 billion euros, that's 1.35 billion dollars. Mike Ingram is BGC's Market Strategist. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BGC PARTNERS, MARKET STRATEGIST, MIKE INGRAM, SAYING: "Ryanair three months ago did caution on the earnings outlook by saying that competition was increasing, that was likely to take some of the shine off their numbers in the fourth quarter and now they are dialing back again on that." Ryanair say fewer empty seats mean 105 million passengers will travel with them in the year to March 31st. That's up 1 million from an earlier forecast. And Ryanair now expect that to increase to 180 million by 2024. Low oil prices are also a plus. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BGC PARTNERS, MARKET STRATEGIST, MIKE INGRAM, SAYING: "It has thrown a real lifeline out to the full cost carriers, the legacy flag carriers, to the likes of Air France and Lufthansa and IAG even to some extent and you have to wonder if we did see a significant increase and sustained increase in oil prices how some of these carriers might then be struggling on and in that scenario of course, the likes of Ryanair and easyJet would be relative winners." Poor weather in northern Europe led more people to seek summer sunshine, in turn increasing ticket sales at Ryanair. But winter is coming. And with it a possible fare war as airlines slash prices.