Budget airline Ryanair has seen profits surge 66 per cent in the year to March, crediting a programme to turn around its reputation for poor customer service. Kirsty Basset reports.
A move by budget airline Ryanair to improve its customer service seems to be paying off. Passenger numbers almost tripled in the year to March, pushing profits up 66 per cent. That in turn has sent shares up 58 per cent over the past 12 months. A programme to turn around the airline's reputation for poor customer service called "Always Getting Better" has been credited with the result. It reduced fees, offered flexible tickets for business travellers and moved away from using small regional airports. The company's ordered 380 aircraft to help grow to 160 million passengers over the next nine years. Ryanair CFO Neil Sorahan. (SOUNDBITE)(ENGLISH) RYANAIR CFO NEIL SORAHAN SAYING: "We've got the lowest cost base of any airline in Europe, we're closing the customer perception margin and differential with the Ryanair 'Always Getting Better" programme - we're into year two of that and we're seeing huge demand for the Ryanair product. So we're just getting aircraft at the right time to grow in a market that's ready for us." So will Ryanair accept an offer by IAG for its 30 per cent stake in Aer Lingus? The Irish government has already begun discussions about the sale of its 25 per cent stake. (SOUNDBITE)(ENGLISH) RYANAIR CFO NEIL SORAHAN SAYING: "We still haven't received any offer from IAG. So until such time as we do receive an offer we can't really comment further." 100 million are expected to fly with Europe's largest airline by passenger numbers in the current fiscal year. But a more modest 10 per cent growth is forecast for this financial year.