Irish no-frills airline Ryanair said on Monday that net profits soared by nearly 50 percent in the first quarter of its financial year, boosted by surging passenger numbers.
Profits after taxation rocketed 48.7 percent to 139.3 million euros ($199.7 million) in the three months to June, compared with 93.7 million euros in the same part of 2010, Ryanair said in a results statement.
However, last year's first-quarter profit was hit by a 44.8-million-euro charge relating to the closure of European airspace. Stripping this out, net profit this year rose by just one percent.
Ryanair added on Monday that passenger numbers rallied 18 percent to 21.3 million people over the reporting period, helping push group revenues up 29 percent to 1.15 billion euros.
At the same time, fuel costs jumped by 49 percent to 427 million euros amid stubbornly high oil prices. Jet fuel or kerosene is derived from crude oil.
Ryanair Chief Executive Michael O'Leary said traffic volumes were skewed by the impact of the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud which had sparked massive disruption to European air travel last year.
"Traffic growth in the first quarter was flattered by the unnecessary airspace closures in April/May 2010, following the Icelandic volcanic eruptions which led to the cancellation of 9,400 flights, and the loss of almost 1.5 million passengers," O'Leary said in the earnings release.
"Our 18-percent traffic growth combined with an 11-percent rise in average fares led to a 29-percent increase in revenues.
"Significantly higher revenues were largely offset by higher operating costs as fuel rose 49 percent.
"Despite substantially higher fuel costs we recorded a profit after tax of 139 million euros, up on Q1 last year."