Ryanair has reported a full year profit after tax of €867m, up 66% on the 2014 figure and ahead of guidance previously given by the airline which had indicated a net profit of between €840m and €850m.
Ryanair saw its revenue climb strongly in the 12 months to the end of March, while passenger numbers were up 11% to over 90 million. On Aer Lingus, in which Ryanair is the largest shareholder, there has been no change in its position. In a statement alongside the results, the airline said "the board of Ryanair will consider any offer (should we receive one) from IAG on its merits, if or when it is received".
Ryanair's chief operating officer David O'Brien says the big Government decision in the aviation sector in the last year has been the scrapping of the aviation tax. Mr O'Brien says the Government has been "rewarded instantly" with about 1.7 million extra passengers from Ryanair into Ireland which will rise to about 3 million this year. He says that translates to about €1 billion extra in revenue a year.
Mr O'Brien says the last 12 months has been quite a year for Ryanair with its staff and passengers embracing its new "Always Getting Better" programme, which he describes as an "irresistible programme of low fares and every improving service". Ryanair and its passengers have yet to really benefit from the falling cost of oil as the airline is very strongly hedged both this year and into next year at $92 a barrel. "This is OK but not as good as it could be", Mr O'Brien states. However, he adds that other efforts within the business will result in lower fares for passengers - with fares falling by between 2-4%. At the same time, Mr O'Brien says the airline's passengers numbers will grow to over 100 million - the first European airline to do that.
Predicting a possible price war in the coming months, Mr O'Brien says that some of Ryanair's unhedged competitors may be tempted into "irrational pricing". He says they simply can not compete with Ryanair's service, pricing or network so they may well be tempted into pricing levels they can not sustain. This is good news for customers as Ryanair will take whatever price they can get as long as the plane is 90% full, Mr O'Brien says.
The Ryanair executive says the airline has a very healthy balance sheet as it has grown to €4.8 billion in cash, of which €364m is net cash. This marked a €200m increase, despite the fact that it returned over €600m in share buybacks and dividends to its shareholders.
MORNING BRIEFS - The trial of a financial trader accused of rigging the interest rate benchmark known as LIBOR will get underway at Southwark in London today. Britain's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) alleges Tom Hayes was the ringleader of more than a dozen traders it says worked to rig the London Interbank Offered Rate (Libor) in the mid to late 2000s. Hayes was a trader with Swiss bank UBS and also with Citigroup. He has pleaded not guilty. Libor is a key reference rate for many financial products which is determined following estimates submitted by a panel of banks each day. Banks including UBS, Royal Bank of Scotland and Rabobank have paid almost €2 billion in fines since the LIBOR rate rigging scandal first came to light.
*** John Malone, the man once dubbed the "cable cowboy" looks on course to round up a $55 billion takeover deal as Charter Communications, the third largest US cable company, is reported by the Wall Street Journal to have agreed terms to buy Time Warner Cable. Mr Malone's Liberty Global, the owner of UPC in Ireland, controls Charter. In addition to his cable assets the 74 year-old billionaire is reputed to be the biggest landowner in the US. He has also been buying up property here including the recent purchase of Castlemartin, the 18th century estate which was once the home of Tony O'Reilly.