Ryanair raises passenger growth forecast despite Brexit


Ryanair has raised its long-term traffic forecast by 10% and predicts it will be carrying more than 200 million passengers a year by March 2024.

The airline said it believed it could deliver profitable growth across Europe “despite the uncertainty of Brexit”.

However, the UK’s vote to leave the EU meant that Ryanair had reduced its planned UK growth in 2017 from 12% to about 5%.

The news came as Ryanair reported a 7% increase in first-half profits.

It made €1.168bn (£1.04bn; $1.29bn) in the April-to-September period, which it described as “a strong first half”.

However, it warned: “Weaker air fares and Brexit uncertainty will be the dominant features of [the second half of the year].”

Last month, Ryanair reduced its forecast for full-year profits, blaming the drop in the pound following the Brexit vote.

It said at the time that net profit would be €1.3bn to €1.35bn (£1.17bn-£1.2bn), 5% below its earlier guidance.

‘Bearish’ environment

In its latest statement, the airline said it remained “comfortable” with that figure, but said that was heavily dependent on avoiding adverse declines in airfares during the fourth quarter.

It already expects revenues from fares to fall in the second half of the financial year by 13% to 15%.

Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary told the BBC that business was “booming”, but that the environment was “bearish” after the Brexit vote.

As a result, the airline was cutting its fares to encourage more people to travel.

“It’s bad news for my shareholders, but great news for my customers,” he said.

Mr O’Leary said the British government had “no idea” about how to deliver Brexit.

He accused Prime Minister Theresa May of “faffing around in India”, where she is currently on a trade mission, instead of heading to Brussels, where the future shape of Brexit would be decided.