Budget airline Ryanair has swung back into profit as traffic grew despite the recession and the firm benefited from lower fuel costs.
The Irish firm made pre-tax profits of 341 million euros (£281 million) for the year to March 31, against a 180.5 million euros loss (£150.5 million) a year earlier.
Ryanair grew traffic 14 per cent to 67 million passengers while fuel costs fell 29 per cent to 894 million euro (£755.5 million) thanks to lower oil prices.
The firm said it was “proud” of its performance and expected further double-digit growth in traffic and profit this year - barring any more disruption from Iceland’s volcanic ash cloud.
Ryanair said “repeated, unnecessary closures” of European airspace had left it with a bill of around 50 million euro (£42.3 million) so far.
The firm - which lost 1.5 million passengers during the disruption in April and May - also hit out at “unfair and disproportionate” regulations leaving airlines with hefty bills to compensate stranded customers.
Ryanair backed down over initial plans to limit payouts to the cost of ticket prices but warned that passengers “cannot and should not expect to receive unlimited compensation or reimbursements”.
The airline said it achieved the results despite a collapsing Irish tourism industry and attacked the country’s government for its introduction of a 10 euro (£8.50) tourist tax and cost increases of up to 40 per cent at Dublin airport.
The firm opened 280 new routes and eight new bases last year, with destinations such as Faro in Portugal and Malaga in Spain already producing higher summer fares.
Passengers will however face higher baggage charges in the peak July and August months before prices drop again in September.
The company’s ancillary revenues from sales of non-ticket items such as food and drink rose 11 per cent to 664 million euros (£560.7 million) last year and now account for 22 per cent of overall sales.
Ryanair also had good news for shareholders with a 500 million euros (£422 million) special dividend after talks with Boeing over new aircraft orders ended last December.