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Ryanair Sees Profit Soar 10% In First Half

(c) Sky News 2012

Ryanair has reported an after-tax profit of 596m euros (£477m) for the first half of 2012, up 10% on the same period last year.

The budget airline's results beat analysts' expectations thanks to a surge in passenger numbers over the summer and a lower fuel bill.

It said traffic was up 7% - 48m passengers flew with Ryanair over the period - and fuel costs were lower than forecast because of a saving programme.

The Dubin-based company added that average fares were up, helping to boost revenue by 15% to 3.1bn euros (£2.48bn).

Chief executive Michael O’Leary said: "Profits exceeded our expectations driven by a combination of strong summer bookings, particularly post the Olympics, a 6% rise in average fares, and lower than forecast fuel bill due to the successful implementation of our fuel savings programme."

Ryanair, which accounts for around 12% of all European short-haul flights, said business in the region "remains tough" because recessions, Government cuts, high fuel costs and taxes.

But it said continues to see opportunities for growth in Europe (Chicago Options: ^REURUSD - news) following the collapse of a number of rival airlines.

Mr O’Leary , who has discussed starting long-haul flights for years, said they were still some way off.

"It's unlikely you'll see a Ryanair transatlantic (flight) for the next three or four years," he told Sky News.

Last month, the company said it would not be bidding for London's Stansted airport, after the airport's owner BAA excluded it from the process.

It is waiting to hear whether European Union (EU) antitrust regulators will approve its takeover of Aer Lingus.

In a recent update on its bid, Ryanair said it had offered concessions to the regulators in an attempt to get clearance.

It has a deadline of February 6 for its decision on the 700m euro (£560m) deal.

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