Irish no-frills airline Ryanair said Monday that annual profits rose slightly last year, aided by higher revenues, and hiked its traffic forecast for the current financial year.
Earnings after taxation grew 1.5 percent to 569.3 million euros ($731.2 million) in the 12 months to the end of March, the Dublin-based carrier said in a results statement.
That marked a record high, according to Ryanair, and compared with net profit of 560.4 million euros in 2011-12.
Passenger numbers grew by 5.0 percent to 79.3 million in the last financial year, while revenue increased 13 percent to 4.88 billion euros.
Annual profits meanwhile rose despite an 18-percent jump in fuel costs to 1.89 billion euros, or 45 percent of total costs.
Turning to the outlook, Ryanair predicted that the company's traffic will grow by 3.0 percent to 81.5 million passengers in 2013-14.
"We expect modest yield and traffic growth for the full year to be partly offset by higher oil and... costs resulting in another year of profit growth," chief executive Michael O'Leary said in the earnings statement.
The airline had closed its last financial year by announcing in March an order for 175 Boeing 737-800 planes, in a major fleet expansion three weeks after the European Union blocked the airline's attempted takeover of Irish rival Aer Lingus.
The massive order was put at $15.6 billion (12.1 billion euros) at Boeing catalogue prices, one of the US aerospace giant's largest orders ever, though discounts could bring the total value to much less than that.
"Ryanair's successful growth, allied to deep short-haul restructuring among many high fare competitors, gives us confidence that we can grow... to over 100 million passengers per annum over the next five years," O'Leary added on Monday.
"Our recent order for 175 firm Boeing 737-800 aircraft represents an enormous opportunity for shareholders as Ryanair returns to higher rates of traffic growth.
"We are pleased to have reached acceptable pricing with Boeing, and the controlled delivery programme from Autumn 2014 to end of 2018 will provide the opportunity to expand Ryanair's fleet to over 400 aircraft and our traffic," O'Leary added.
But in a blow for Ryanair, in February the European Commission barred a third attempt by low-cost airline pioneer to take over Aer Lingus, citing concerns that passengers would lose out badly. Ryanair plans to appeal the decision.
"We have no doubt that this was yet another politically motivated decision by Europe's competition authority and it is inexplicable in the context of its stated policy of promoting European airline consolidation," O'Leary said in Monday's statement as he strongly repeated his dissatisfaction with the outcome.