Ryanair plans rapid growth

<p>The budget airline expects to have 180 million passengers a year within ten years.</p>

Irish airline Ryanair says it plans to see rapid growth over the next decade.

The company, which offers low-cost flights, says it expects to have 180 million passengers a year within ten years. That's 20 million more than the company's previous target. It expects 105 million by the end of 2015.

Ryanair has revised previous figures following a 37 per cent rise in pre-tax profit for the six months to September 30th, bringing the number to €1.23 billion (£879 million), excluding exceptional items.

Passenger numbers have gone up by 13 per cent to 58.1 million, while revenue rose 14 per cent to more than €4 billion. The load factor, which measures how full each flight was, went up – by 93 per cent – during the period and the company also became the first EU-based airline to carry more than ten million passengers a month in July.

Commenting on the results, chief executive Michael O'Leary said: "We have enjoyed a bumper summer due to a very rare confluence of favourable events including stronger sterling, adverse weather in northern Europe, reasonably flat industry capacity and further savings on our unhedged fuel."

Ryanair has forecast that profits for 2015 will be at the upper end of the €1.175 million to €1,225 million range. Hover, the actual results will depend on bookings for the October to December period.

On Monday (November 2nd), Ryanair's share prices rose throughout the morning and early afternoon. By 15:25 BST, shares were 3.04 per cent up, to 13.90 pence.

Price war

Mr O'Leary has predicted that there could be a price war next year and says he expects fares to fall by around four per cent in the first three months of 2016.

"We are already reducing our prices [...] and in recent weeks we have seen most airlines reduce their prices," he noted.

In recent months, Ryanair has taken steps to improve customer service and make the travelling experience more enjoyable for passengers. One big change has been a new personalised website that has had a "very positive" response from customers, according to the firm.

Mr O'Leary's predicted price cuts may also have an affect on the company's future results.

"We are going to trash everyone on fares," he said last month.

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