Irish budget airline Ryanair has more than doubled its net profit at the end of last year due to rising numbers of passengers. Amid strong earnings, the carrier announced a multi-million share buyback program.
The Dublin-based carrier announced Monday that its earnings after taxation rocketed 110 percent to 103 million euros ($111 million) in the three months to the end of December, compared with 49 million euros a year earlier.
In the period, which marks Ryanair's third quarter in the financial year, customer traffic jumped by a fifth to 25 million people, the airline said in a statement.
Rising profitability and improving cash flow, the statement also said, would make it possible for Ryanair to return 800 million euros ($866-million) to investors via a share buyback program.
Ryanair chief executive (CEO) Michael O'Leary said the quarter was marked by "weaker pricing and bookings" in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels, but added: "We reacted to this softness by running price promotions and discounted fares to stimulate double digit traffic growth."
Moreover, falling oil prices and subsequently lower costs had helped the company offset a modest dip in average fares.
Looking ahead, Ryanair predicted that fourth-quarter traffic between January and March would grow by 26 percent. That marked an increase of four percentage points on its previous forecast. Full-year net profits were expected to come in toward the upper end of a forecast range between 1.175 billion euros and 1.225 billion euros.
Analysts welcomed the quarterly results and accompanying share buyback.
In a note to clients, Davy Stockbrokers said: "Ryanair continues to deliver very strong profit," adding that the airline's cash generation was "spectacular."
uhe/bea (Reuters, AFP, dpa)