RYANAIR'S THIRD QUARTER AFTER TAX PROFITS FLY 21% HIGHER - Ryanair's fuel bill was 24%, or €81m, higher over the final three months of 2012 than it was in the same period the previous year. But, results published this morning, show that it proved no impediment to the airline's growth. Third quarter revenues were up 15%, an extra €155m helping ease the fuel pain, and passenger numbers also rose by 3% to 17.3 million. All of that translated to an after tax profit of €18.1m - 21% higher than a year earlier.

Howard Millar, Ryanair's chief financial officer and deputy chief executive, says the airline has made a unique set of remedies to address the European Commission's concerns over its efforts to take over Aer Lingus. Mr Millar said the airline is offering to involve two upfront buyers which will each base planes in Ireland to operate a substantial part of Aer Lingus' existing route network and short-haul business. He said that Ryanair has a plan and a vision for Aer Lingus to grow the airline across Europe.

On the company's third quarter results, Mr Millar says that while fuel costs were up they did make some savings and the airline had a strong run to the Christmas period. Its ancillary revenues rose 24% in the third quarter as more of its passengers bought drinks and snacks, while its reserve seating option proved very popular. He also noted that more people are carrying less baggage with them on flights, which saves the airline on costs.

Mr Millar says that The Gathering this year will not really boost business as just 8% of its operations are now Irish based. He says the airline would be much more interested in events in its biggest markets of the UK and Spain. He says the next few months will present Ryanair with opportunities for new routes and services as its competitors continue to struggle.


MORNING BRIEFS - Toyota has retaken the crown of world's leading car brand after reporting a record 9.75 million vehicle sales last year. General Motors, which reigned supreme as the highest selling brand for nearly three quarters of a century before losing the top spot in 2008, was pushed back to number two. GM retook the lead from Toyota in 2011 when the Japanese car maker suffered serious disruption to production after the devastating earthquake and tsunami which struck northeastern Japan early in that year.

*** PCH, which is an Irish supply chain management specialist that manufactures and sources components used in many popular consumer electronic products, is one of just eight companies listed by Apple in an update on its final assembly facilities posted by the company. Six of the other seven are Chinese and the eighth is Apple's operation at Hollyhill industrial estate in Cork. Those are the sites where Apple puts together products such as iPhones, iPads and Macs for global distribution.

*** Forfás, the state agency which advises on policy in relation to enterprise, trade and innovation, will this week publish a report which encourages the Government to introduce tax breaks to spur investment in certain types of early-stage companies. The idea is to provide incentives, including a lower rate of tax on dividends paid by those companies to their shareholders, to encourage high net worth individuals and private equity firms to co-invest alongside bodies such as Enterprise Ireland in backing high potential but relatively risky start-up ventures.