Paid-for extras help boost Ryanair profits

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The Independent Online

Ryanair's strategy of charging passengers for extras, such as food, car hire and excess baggage, has boosted revenues at the budget airline, helping it post record half-year results.

The airline shrugged off the impact of rising fuel and labour costs to report a 23 per cent rise in pre-tax profits to €459.5m (£319.7m) in the six months to the end of September. Passenger numbers rose 20 per cent to 26.6 million.

The chief executive Michael O'Leary said Ryanair was raising its profits guidance for the year and said yields, the average fare per passenger, were only likely to drop by 5 per cent over the winter period, instead of the 10 per cent previously forecast.

He also took the opportunity to criticise the Government's plans to reform air passenger duty (APD), announced in last month's pre-Budget report. The proposed shift from taxing passengers to taxing flights was "modern highway robbery", he said. Ancillary revenues, from all the add-ons the airline charges, rose 54 per cent to €252m and now account for more than 16 per cent of total revenues but are targeted to grow to 20 per cent. To that end, Ryanair is to test its in-flight mobile phone service on 25 planes before the end of March next year with a view to charging passengers to make calls and send texts. The company charges £2 to check in at the airport rather than online and £5.50 per kilo for excess baggage and £5 to check a bag into the hold.