Nov.05 - Profits at Europe's biggest budget airline Ryanair jumped 10 percent in the first half of the year and it raises full-year forecast on the back of higher fares, lower fuel costs and a jump in passenger numbes over the summer. Hayley Platt reports.
Cashing in on a crisis - that's what Europe's biggest budget airline has managed to do. Ryanair's shares soared seven percent after it raised its full year profit forecast. Higher fares, lower fuel prices and a surge in demand after the Olympics helped boost half year profits to almost 600 million euros - 10 percent higher than last year. CEO Michael O'Leary also says Ryanair benefitted from others misfortunes. SOUNDBITE: Michael O'Leary, Chief Executive, Ryanair, saying (English): "We've managed to grow our traffic by 7%. In some cases in markets like Hungary where Malév went bust, in Spain where Spanair went bust and we're seeing the benefits of that. We have had slightly higher air fares as well but that's really to fund significantly higher oil prices and increases in Spanish and Italian taxes in particular." Many airlines have been hit hard by Europe's struggling economy and high fuel costs. But O'Leary says while he's disappointed with the way the debt crisis has been handled he sees it as an opportunity. SOUNDBITE: Michael O'Leary, Chief Executive, Ryanair, saying (English): "I think the more the European economy continues to struggle the more these high fare flag carriers who are looking at structural transformations. At the moment Iberia is talking about a major cutback in its shorthaul operations. SAS is facing possible closure or again very significant restructuring. I think there's going to be further and further opportunities and room for Ryanair to grow." The Dublin-based airline carried around 48 million passengers in the first half of the year - that's a 7 percent increase. Fares rose 6 percent - with the average fare now 53 euros. And Ryanair also aims to grab an 18 percent share of the European short-haul air travel market from its current 12 percent The airline is cautious about winter trading but expects the positive trend to continue. It's also waiting to hear if its bid for Aer Lingus will be approved EU regulators are currently considering Ryanair's third attempt in five years to take-over its Irish rival.