Based on negotiations with 180 airports across Europe, Ryanair sees more growth opportunities for 2018 and 2019 than its existing fleet plan can accommodate. Consequently, it is talking to Boeing about taking additional aircraft over the next two years and is looking to extend 10 of its leased aircraft. It will also establish a new charter airline in Poland. After growing passenger numbers by 13% to 120 million in FY2017, it has a current FY2018 plan for growth to slow to 8%, taking the total to 130 million. This target may now have some upside potential.
In FY2017 Ryanair increased its underlying net profit by 6%, to its highest ever EUR1.3 billion, in spite of a 13% drop in average fares. Its operating margin was again the highest among European airlines. Double digit passenger growth was stimulated by low fares and customer service enhancements resulting from Ryanair's 'Always Getting Better' programme.
Over the three years of the programme Ryanair has added 38 million passengers, 12 ppts of load factor and EUR793 million of net profit (a 152% increase), while cutting its ex fuel cost per passenger by 8%. Ryanair is once again a very profitable, cash generating machine.
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