Budget european airline carrier Ryanair has reported record profits but warned that surging fuel costs and a worsening economic outlook in Europe meant profits were likely to fall in the coming year.
The airline also confirmed it would pay out €483m to shareholders in its second dividend payout since floating in 1997.
Ryanair posted a net profit of €503m for the year to the end of March, a 25% increase on the €401m reported the same time last year.
It also was slightly better than average analysts forecasts of €491m.
Revenues for the year rose by 19% to €4.325 billion from €3.630 billion while passenger numbers grew by 5% to 75.8 million from 72.1 million despite the grounding of up to 80 planes during the winter months.
The airline said its fuel bill rose by €360m during the year as oil prices increased by 16%.
Ryanair said that worsening economic conditions in Europe and stubbornly high fuel costs would cut its profit to between €400-440m in the 2013, making it the first year since 2009 that profit has fallen.
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“We remain concerned about next winter as we have zero yield visibility but expect recession, austerity, currency concerns and lower fares at new and growing bases in Hungary, Poland, provincial UK and Spain will make it difficult to repeat this year’s record results,” Ryanair’s chief executive Michael O’Leary said.
He said he expects that any increase in fares will only partially offset higher fuel costs in the coming year and says Ryanair’s fuel bill will rise by €320m.
He also said that it expects more European airlines to fail this year, as higher oil prices and recession continues to hit the air industry.