Ryanair shares jumped over 7% today after the airline raised its guidance for full-year profit after tax by between 17% and 19%.

Ryanair upped its full-year profit target to between €950m and €1.050 billion on the back of a stronger-than-expected performance during the Christmas and New Year travel period.

The airline had previously predicted full year profits of €800-€900m.

Ryanair said based on current trading, it expected to finish close to the mid-point of this new range and the €1.02 billion it posted in its previous financial year, the airline's weakest annual profit in four years.

In a trading update today, the airline said its forward bookings from January to April are running 1% ahead of this time last year.

It said it believes this will result in slightly better than expected average fares in its fiscal fourth quarter.

Ryanair also said its full year group traffic is now expected to grow to 154 million, up from its previous guidance of 153 million.

But Ryanair said its Austrian subsidiary, Laudamotion, continues to underperform with average fares over Christmas lower than expected, despite strong traffic growth and high load factors.

Lauda now expects to carry 6.5 million passengers in the year to March 2020 but at average fares that are €15 below budget.

Ryanair said this will cause Lauda's net loss for the year to widen from under €80m to about €90m.

Today's profit upgrade from Ryanair comes after a year characterised by grounded planes and strikes.

The airline was forced to shut bases in Germany and Sweden after news that deliveries of new 737 Max planes were to be delayed. 

The Boeing plane has been grounded after being involved in two fatal crashes. 

Regulators have banned the plane from flying until they can be sure that concerns over mechanical and design problems have been addressed. 

The company also narrowly avoided a pilots' strike in September when the union called it off. 

Members of the British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) were set to walk out amid a "acrimonious" relationship with Ryanair, but called off the strikes at the last minute.