(Changes to “end-September” from “end-October” in fourth paragraph; also adds Reuters instrument code for Aer Lingus in second paragraph)
* H1 profit after tax 596 mln euros vs 564 mln consensus
* Lifts FY guidance to between 490 mln and 520 mln
DUBLIN, Nov 5 (Reuters) - Ryanair said profit in the first half jumped 10 percent, beating expectations thanks to higher fares and a lower fuel bill, prompting Europe’s biggest budget airline to raise its guidance for full-year profit.
The Dublin-based airline, which is waiting to hear whether EU regulators will approve its takeover of Aer Lingus, said fares rose 6 percent in the second half, coupled with a surge in passenger numbers during the summer months.
“It was a strong performance after the Olympic Games, we certainly saw an upward rise in average fares. Many people who appeared to stay at home ... came back in force post the Olympic Games,” Chief Financial Officer Howard Millar told Reuters.
Net profit for the six months to end-September rose to 596 million euros ($765.6 million), from 544 million euros a year ago and ahead of analyst expectations at 564 million euros. Revenue surged 15 percent to 3.1 billion euros.
The airline lifted its forecast for the year to March to a profit of between of 490 million to 520 million euros from its previous guidance of 400 million to 440 million for the year to March.
Ryanair said in a recent update on its bid to acquire rival Aer Lingus that it has offered concessions to European Union antitrust regulators in an effort to secure regulatory clearance. It has a Feb. 6 deadline for its decision on the 700 million euro ($912 million) deal.
Ryanair said it would not take part in the sale of London’s Stansted airport last month, after the airport’s owner BAA, excluded the budget airline from the process.
Shares in European airlines Air France-KLM and Lufthansa both rose towards the end of last week after posting reassuring results on Thursday. ($1 = 0.7785 euros) (Reporting by Lorraine Turner; Editing by Richard Pullin)