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Ryanair Q1 profits take off as demand rises

Ryanair passenger numbers increased 16% to 28 million

Ryanair will ground fewer aircraft this winter

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Budget airline Ryanair (LON:RYA) lifted first quarter profits by 25% and said full year profits were likely to be towards the upper end of market hopes.

Ryanair said profits in the three months to June 30 rose to €245mln from €197mln a year ago on a 10% revenue gain to just shy of €1.7bn.

Passenger numbers increased 16% to 28 million.

The Irish carrier said it was too early in the year to alter its full-year profit guidance, but it said slightly better first half yields will push it towards the upper end of its previously guided range of €940mln to €970mln net profit.

"We caution, however, that this guidance, which is 12% ahead of last year’s profit, is heavily reliant on the final out-turn of second half fares over which we currently have almost zero visibility," chief executive Michael O'Leary said.

Ryanair increased its 2016 passenger target to 103 million from 100 million on the back of strong demand.

It attributed the increase to its new customer-friendly approach and expansion at previously unserved airports.

The group is increasing its fleet by 31 aircraft to 340 by the end of the year and said strong demand meant it would be grounding 10 fewer aircraft this winter.

In September it opens its sixth German base in Berlin where it has a 5% share of the German market and expects to grow this strongly over the next five years.

Its second Swedish base in Gothenburg will also open in September. In November, Israel will become its 31st country served when it starts flights to Eilat.

Shares in Ryanair fell €0.25 to €12.02. Liberum Capital, which has a €12 target price on Ryanair, advised investors to keep the shares.

The broker said a 25% rise in profits was impressive, but it expected the pace of improvement to moderate. "We saw further evidence of the figures being flattered by cheaper fuel and higher load factors."

Quick facts: Ryanair Holdings plc

Price: 11.335 EUR

Market: LSE
Market Cap: €12.76 billion

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