Ryanair has posted a net profit of EUR49 million for the third quarter in its financial year, compared to a EUR35m loss in the same period in the previous year.
Traffic in the third quarter, which covers the three months leading up to 31 December 2014, rose 14% to 21 million with the average fare up 2% to EUR40.
More routes from ‘primary airports’ and three new bases in Bratislava, Copenhagen and the Azores held up against demand, pushing load factor up to 88% (from 82%).
“As 2015 will be Ryanair’s 30th year of bringing low fares to Europe, we are pleased to report a Q3 profit of €49m. These strong results confirm that our “Always Getting Better” customer programme and our expanded business schedules, coupled with our substantial fare and cost advantage over competitor airlines is drawing millions of new customers to Ryanair,” said CEO Michael O’Leary.
Its programme has most recently included the launch of a US site and GDS deal with Amadeus, with a new app to come in April.
In light of the profit the airline announced it will pay a EUR520m special dividend to shareholders on 27 February and has approved a EUR400m share buy-back programme starting 12 February.
Its fuel hedges have been extended into full-year 2017 to take advantage of lower oil prices, with its $92 per barrel pay-out lower than its competitors. This, the airline said, will mean modest profit growth in full-year 2016 and it would look to pass savings onto customers with lower fares.
The Irish carrier has also raised its full-year net profit guidance for 2014-15 from EUR810m-EUR830m to EUR840m-EUR850m.
Its next quarter, January-March 2015, is expected to see traffic pass 90 million with load factors at 87%. Prices have softened at the start of the year and are expected to fall between 6% and 8% to develop new business.
Ryanair said it would not speculate on IAG’s offer to buy Aer Lingus, of which Ryanair has shares in, until it has been approached.