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Christmas Boost Sees Ryanair's Traffic Rise

(c) Sky News 2013

Ryanair has reported a 3% rise in traffic in the third quarter as strong pre-Christmas bookings boosted its profit.

The airline's average fares were up more than expected - by 8% over the period - leading the company to increase its full-year profit forecast.

Its profit after tax in the third quarter was up by over 20% to 18.1m euros (£15.4m), helping to offset an 81m euros (£69.1m) increase in fuel costs.

Ryanair expects its full year profit to be over 540m euros (£461m) - up from an earlier estimate of 520m euros (£444m) at most.

The airline carried a total of 17.3 million passengers over the third quarter - but is predicting that in the fourth, passenger numbers will slip as a result of higher fuel costs and airport fares.

It expects traffic to fall by around 400,000 passengers when compared to the same period last year.

Chief executive Michael O'Leary said the company's profit was ahead of expectations "due to strong pre-Christmas bookings at higher yields".

He added that the rise in average fares was to due "improved customer service, record punctuality and the successful roll out of our reserved seating service".

The no-frills airline also said it had issued a new proposal in an attempt to win its on-going battle to buy rival Aer Lingus (Other OTC: AELGF - news) .

The European Commission blocked a previous bid saying it would create a monopoly on some European flights.

A company statement said: "Ryanair has submitted a radical and unprecedented remedies package to the EU in support of its offer for Aer Lingus.

"We believe these remedies address every current Ryanair/Aer Lingus crossover route and all other competition issues raised by the Commission."

Media reports last week said the airline had offered to offload more than a third of Aer Lingus' short-haul operations to secure the takeover.

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