Ryanair shares closed sharply higher in Dublin this evening after it reported after tax profits of €569m for the year to the end of March, up 13% on the previous year.

Revenues for the year rose 13% to €4.88 billion as passenger numbers grew by 5% to 79.3 million despite the airline grounding up to 80 winter aircraft.

During the year, the airline opened seven new bases - at Chania in Greece, Eindhoven and Maastricht in the Netherlands, Fez and Marrakech in Morocco, Krakow in Poland, and Zadar in Croatia.

It also started flying on 217 new routes to give a total of over 1,600.

The airline said that fuel costs rose by over €290m during the year and now represent 45% of total costs. Its ancillary revenues outpaced its traffic growth, rising by 20% to €1.064 billion, or 22% of total revenue.

Shares were €6.67 (6.9%) higher at the close of business.

Ryanair said that forward bookings on its new routes and bases are ahead of expectations as its competitors continue to restructure and cut short-haul capacity. It said it expects growth opportunities to expand and improve for the foreseeable future.

The airline said that its new route teams ''continue to handle more growth opportunities than our current fleet expansion allows''. It said it was looking at opportunities in Germany, Scandinavia and central Europe as well as Spain.

''As ever, Ryanair remains willing to exploit growth opportunities where airports provide attractive incentives to do so,'' the airline's chief executive Michael O'Leary stated.

Michael O'Leary said the airline was ''disappointed'' that the European Commission decided to prohibit its third offer for Aer Lingus.

In its outlook, the company said it expected profit for the coming financial year to come in between €570-600m, an increase of 5%.

"We expect modest yield (revenue per passenger mile) and traffic growth for the full year to be partly offset by higher oil and Eurocontrol costs," Mr O'Leary said in a statement, referring to the pan-European air traffic control body.

"With almost zero yield visibility into the second half and the EU wide recession, we expect that there will continue to be downward pressure on yields which will dampen full-year profit growth," he added.

Mr O'Leary also said that the airline will ground fewer planes this winter compared to previous years and expects traffic in the next 12 months to grow by 3% to 81.5 million.

Ryanair shares closed almost 7% higher at €6.77 in Dublin this evening.