BUDGET airline Ryanair has hiked its forecasts for annual profits after a better-than-expected summer for the low-cost carrier.
Passenger numbers rose 7 per cent to 48 million in the six months to 30 September and it benefited from a 6 per cent rise in average fares.
With a lower than expected fuel bill, half-year profits rose 10 per cent to £478 million.
Chief executive Michael O’Leary said there was very little visibility on winter bookings but that full-year profits would be higher than previously forecast.
He also said market conditions would remain tough as “recession, austerity, high fuel costs, and excessive government taxes” dampened air travel demand.
“Further airline failures and consolidations are inevitable,” he added.
The airline said it will ground up to 80 aircraft this winter as a result of high oil prices, airport fees at Stansted and Dublin airports and seasonally weaker demand. It expects growth in full-year passenger numbers of 4 per cent to 79 million over the year.