Ryanair ups profit forecast as bookings soar


DUBLIN — Ryanair Holdings PLC on Thursday raised its full-year net-profit forecast following strong bookings and better-than-expected yields in late February and March.

The Irish low-budget airline said it now expects net profit of “not less than €310 million” for the 12 months to March 31, up from a previous forecast of €275 million. Ryanair will announce results on June 1.

Ryanair said that bookings were particularly strong in the run-up to the Easter holiday weekend. More than two million U.K. holiday makers alone are expected to travel over the weekend, according to travel association Abta.

The carrier’s strategy of charging for extras such as luggage kept in the cargo hold, snacks and scratch cards also helped stabilize ticket revenue. Revenue per ticket fell a smaller-than-expected 12% in the third quarter. The company had originally expected it to fall 20%.

Ryanair has pledged to take advantage of more routes opening up in the airline market this year as other carriers fail or consolidates—with particular focus on Italy, Scandinavia, Spain and the U.K. In recent months, several airlines have gone under, including Germany’s Blue Wings, the U.K.’s Flyglobespan, Slovakia’s Sky Europe & Seagle Air and Italy’s My Air.

Irish peer Aer Lingus PLC said Tuesday its 2009 net loss increased 18% to €130.1 million due to demanding trading conditions—especially on long-haul flights—and recession in its major markets.

Ireland’s struggling former state-run carrier, which operates European and trans-Atlantic flights, has resisted two takeover bids from Ryanair. Ryanair still holds a 29% strategic stake in Aer Lingus and the Irish government also has a 25% stake.