Ryanair to cut fares as profits soar

Ryanair to cut fares as profits soar

Ryanair has revealed plans to cut fares by 7% this year as annual profits at the budget airline soared by almost half.

The Dublin-based carrier said it expects to reduce fares as it bids to maintain market share across a European airline industry that has been hit by the terror attacks in Brussels and Paris.

The impact of the recent EgyptAir plane crash may further weaken the appetite for international travel over the coming months.

The cuts in fares come as Ryanair posted profits after tax up 43% to 1.24 billion euros (£959m) in the year to March compared with a year ago, just short of City forecasts of £1.3bn (£1bn).

The airline said over the previous 12 months it cut average fares by 1% to 46.67 euros (£36.11), as it passed on fuel savings which has seen oil prices fall some 70% since the summer of 2014.

The carrier said passenger numbers lifted by 18% to 106.4 million over the period.

Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary said: "The full-year to 2016 was a year in which we delivered significant traffic and profit growth in all four quarters."

However, the carrier said sales in the fourth quarter of its year were hit by more than 500 flight cancellations caused by a combination of the Brussels attacks in March and a series of French air traffic control strikes.

It added that revenues in the first quarter of its new year will also be impacted by air traffic control strikes in Italy, Greece, Belgium and France.