Ryanair plans Tel Aviv flights after buoyant profit forecast

Jan 29, 2013

Business travellers and reserved seating boost figures for low-budget Irish airline

HEAVY demand for Christmas getaway flights has allowed Ryanair to lift its profits forecast – and now budget flights to Israel are on the horizon.

The low-cost Irish airline expects a seven per cent increase in takings to €540m in the year to March. Despite a 19 per cent rise in oil costs, its revenues rose 15 per cent to €969m in the three months to December 31, fuelling expansion ambitions. Now it wants to extend its network to Tel Aviv.

"Israel has phenomenal potential," deputy chief executive Michael Cawley told The Times. However he acknowledged the country wants to protect its national airline El Al, adding Israel was "having difficulty, conceptually, in saying: 'We want to open up the market completely.'"

Ryanair put its buoyant pre-Christmas forecasts down to cutbacks by rival airlines such as bmi and a new "spectacularly successful" initiative allowing customers to reserve seats. Business travellers whose employers are looking to save money by cutting back on travel budgets have also boosted the figures.

As the Daily Telegraph notes, the next steps for the airline are to complete talks with Boeing over a new aircraft order and continue its attempts to take over rival Aer Lingus. Ryanair has submitted what it describes as a "radical" package to the European Commission to gain regulatory approval. The firm, which expects to carry 79m passengers this year, thinks it could raise the number to 120m over the next decade.

Last year CEO Michael O'Leary, in typically pugnacious fashion, said his £1m salary made him the "most underpaid and underappreciated airline boss in Europe".

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What's the big deal? EasyJet already flies to Tel Aviv. Why you giving O'Leary all this publicity?