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Ryanair lifts passenger growth forecast

Monday, November 07, 2016 - 01:50

Budget airline Ryanair has raised its long-term growth forecast by 10 percent, saying it expected to carry 200 million passengers per year by 2024 and secure a more than 20 percent share of Europe's short-haul market as rivals struggle with falling fares. Hayley Platt reports

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It hasn't been an easy ride of late for Ryanair. Fending off competition and a falling pound putting pressure on prices. Ryanair's solution is to keep planes full by cutting ticket prices. (SOUNDBITE) (English) RYANAIR CEO, MICHAEL O'LEARY, SAYING: "It means we have high load factors, we have strong traffic growth, profits are not growing quite as fast, profits are only up 7 percent but that's because fares are down 10 percent." That's good news for passengers. And Ryanair plans to increase the number of those by 10 percent to 200 million travellers a year by 2024. It'll also return an additional 550 million euros by February in a share buyback. That was enough to boost shares 6 percent. (SOUNDBITE) (English) INDEPENDENT MARKET ANALYST, JEREMY BATSTONE-CARR, SAYING: "I think the issue for Ryanair, is that you're constantly having to juggle the interests of customers with the interest of shareholders. I think so far Ryanair has actually managed to achieve the balance pretty well." But potential Brexit storm clouds remain a worry. (SOUNDBITE) (English) RYANAIR CEO, MICHAEL O'LEARY, SAYING: "The whole uncertainty as to whether the UK will stay in the single market, stay in Open Skies, leave, is very troubling. We're going to cut capacity which we thought would have grown by 12 percent, will now only grow by 5 percent." The UK market only accounts for about 2 percent of Ryanair's business. And last week it announced plans to add Frankfurt Main to its operations - one of Europe's busiest hubs. (SOUNDBITE) (English) RYANAIR CEO, MICHAEL O'LEARY, SAYING: "I think what Frankfurt are worried about is that Air Berlin is continuing to restructure and cut back. They see their traffic either stagnating or declining and they want somebody to come in there and grow the business." Ryanair's certainly increasing capacity faster that most. It's planning a 13 percent rise this winter - four percent higher than the average and the highest level in the industry in a decade. ///

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Ryanair lifts passenger growth forecast

Monday, November 07, 2016 - 01:50