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Ryanair posts record profit as passengers soar above pre-Covid level

Capacity will be 'strained' for some time, says Ryanair CFO

Low-cost carrier Ryanair on Monday reported its best-ever annual profit, as passenger and revenue growth offset sharply higher operating costs.

The Dublin-based firm said full-year profit after tax jumped 34% to 1.92 billion euros ($2.09 billion), and announced a 700-million-euro share buyback program.

Revenue rose 25% year-on-year to 13.44 billion euros as the airline served 184 million passengers, 23% more than before the Covid pandemic.

These higher traffic numbers and an increase in fares helped Ryanair overcome a spike in costs: operating costs were up 24% year on year, and the airline’s jet fuel bill soared 32%.

Ryanair Chief Financial Officer Neil Sorahan told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Europe” Monday that its share buyback reflected a “very strong” balance sheet.

“Our priorities have been very much: restore the pay for our people after Covid, bring in pay increases, pay down the debt,” he said. “And we’ve been paying down bonds, we now have 1.4 billion in gross cash at the end of the last year, and that’s why the board now have the confidence on top of the ordinary dividend program, to actualy return the 700 million to shareholders.”

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