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Prices and profits rising at 'low-fare' Ryanair

Ryanair, the self-styled "world's favourite airline", yesterday raised its profit forecasts for the year as a result of charging higher fares.

The company, notorious for offering apparently rock-bottom prices for tickets then making the money back by charging for virtually anything else, said winter yields would be "slightly better than forecast" based on third-quarter bookings, indicating that customers are paying more for flights. As such, the company has raised guidelines for full-year profits to between €380m (£330m) and €400m from the previous range of €350m to €375m.

The higher fares have not stopped the company squeezing its passengers on other fronts. "Ancillary revenues", the code for in-flight snacks, baggage charges and the rest, grew to €423.8m from €346.3m during the half year to the end of September. The 22 per cent rise was a shade below the overall revenue growth of 23 per cent to €2.2bn. Ryanair carried 40.1 million passengers, 10 per cent more than the 36.4 million it carried during the same period last year. Average fares at the half also rose by 12 per cent to €44, while total revenue per passenger – including those extras – was up 12 per cent.

Ryanair explained the half-year fare rise by saying that it had been operating longer-haul flights, and despite regularly generating negative publicity, the company again proved to be robustly profitable: pre-tax profits increased to €482.2 from €418.4m.

The airline's chief executive, Michael O'Leary, as usual, used the results statement to round on his bugbears among politicians, regulators, EU bureaucrats and unions.

He added: "A 17 per cent increase in half-year net profit to €452m is testimony to the robustness of Ryanair's lowest cost, lowest fare model which continues to deliver traffic and profit growth even during a deep recession. We continue to gain market share across Europe from the big three high fare flag carrier groups."