Ryanair, which still relies heavily on Stansted as its major operation, has raised its profit forecast. Third quarter earnings were ”31.4m (”47.7m), down from ”36.8m (”55.9m) in the same period of 2005, with about ”257m (”390.6m) predicted for the current financial year which ends in March. Scheduled revenues rose by 28%, thanks to a 19% growth in traffic and a better than forecasted 7% rise in average yields. A major contributory factor was a rise in hidden charges for passengers, who already contribute to a very profitable so-called wheelchair charge, luggage and handling, plus commission on car hire, hotels and other services.
The price of Ryanair shares rose to a record ”7.91 (”12) on the London Stock Exchange, double the price of its 2006 low six months ago, and the airline said that it would take another look at Aer Lingus, which it owns 25%, later in the year.
Yet again no dividend was paid. Chief executive Michael O'Leary said: ”Ryanair recently received shareholder approval to complete a 2 for 1 stock split, and we plan to implement this split on 26 February 2007. The purpose of this stock split is to improve the marketability and liquidity of Ryanair”s shares, and the existing ratio of five ordinary shares to one ADR will be retained.”
O”Leary joined in the industry”s condemnation of Chancellor Brown”s stealth tax: "This is just another tax on tourists. The fact that it represents a 35% rate of tax on Ryanair's average fare of ”28 (”42.5) shows how regressive, unfair and penal it is." He also took the opportunity to have another swipe at his major landlord, BAA, calling the proposed expansion of Stansted ”gold plated.”