By Pierre Bertrand

Ryanair Holdings plans to buyback 700 million euros ($760.9 million) worth of shares after a rise in earnings, and said that it expects passenger numbers to increase this year depending on how well Boeing handles its delivery delays.

The Irish low-cost carrier said that it expected its passenger numbers to grow 8%, or to 198 million to 200 million passengers, but that this growth would be subject to Boeing deliveries returning to contracted levels. Ryanair said it was still short 23 Boeing planes.

"There remains a risk that Boeing deliveries could slip further," the company said, adding that such delays would cause more traffic growth to take place in the lower-yielding second half of the year than previously planned.

Short-haul capacity for the summer is also being constrained by the engine maintenance affecting many Airbus planes in Europe, it added.

That said, demand for flights in the summer was positive, reflecting bookings trending ahead of where they were a year ago, though recent pricing was softer than expected. Ryanair added that summer prices were expected to be flat versus last summer's prices or modestly ahead of them.

Revenue, meanwhile, exceeded analysts' expectations for the fiscal year, which was marked by European air traffic controller strikes and hundreds of flights being canceled in March due to disruption from the Israel-Hamas war.

Pre-exceptional profit after tax--the company's preferred metric--came to EUR1.92 billion, a 34% increase from a year ago on revenue that rose 25% to EUR13.44 billion.

Analysts' had expected EUR13.37 billion in revenue, according to a Visible Alpha consensus. In January, Ryanair guided for pre-exceptional after-tax profit in the range of EUR1.85 billion to EUR1.95 billion.

The Irish low-cost carrier said that its buyback would start this week after average fares, per-passenger revenue and ancillary revenue rose.

Nearly 184 million passengers flew on Ryanair in the year, a 9% increase, while the company's load factor--a measure of how full a plane is--stood at 94% compared with 93% a year ago.

Its performance for the current fiscal year will depend on avoiding the impacts of events such as the wars in Ukraine and the Middle East, air traffic disruptions or further Boeing delivery delays, and that it was too early to disclose financial guidance.

Write to Pierre Bertrand at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

05-20-24 0344ET