Passengers lift Ryanair's forecast

Ryanair raised its full-year profit forecast by 10 per cent yesterday, as it predicted that rising revenue per passenger mile would more than offset high fuel costs.

Europe's largest no-frills airline said it had seen virtually no impact from the decline in consumer sentiment in its first half, with revenue per passenger mile up 11 per cent in the six months to 20 September.

These were pushed up by higher average fares, helped by baggage fees, and an "improved product mix" that drove ancillary sales such as reserved seating fees and online payment charges. However, the airline did warn that revenues would suffer in the second half as it grounded 80 aircraft.

"We are well booked for the coming months, fractionally ahead of where we were last year," Howard Millar, its chief financial officer, said.

Michael O'Leary, Ryanair's chief executive, added: "Ryanair's capacity cuts will mean that traffic in the second half will fall by 4 per cent. In November, for example, we expect to report a traffic decline of 10 per cent, or almost 500,000 passengers, as we ground up to 80 aircraft due to higher oil prices."

Ryanair said it expected to make a profit before tax of €440m for this financial year, up from €400m.