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Ryanair sees first profit slump in five years

Europe's biggest low-budget carrier Ryanair has said fierce competition on the continent's hotly contested markets has resulted in lower full-year earnings. But the Irish airline is optimistic about 2014.

Ryanair said Monday its fiscal year ending in March brought a bottom-line profit that was far lower than it had originally hoped for.

Chief Executive Michael O'Leary said in Dublin the no-frills carrier logged a full-year net profit of 523 million euros ($716.7 billion), marking an 8-percent drop from the level reached a year earlier.

He said cheaper tickets to attract more passengers had been behind the profit slump, alongside higher fuel costs. Ryanair's turnover increased to some 5 billion euros.

The airline said it expected to hike earnings again in the current fiscal year, hoping for between 580 and 620 million euros in net earnings.

From Europe to the US for a song?

Ryanair also announced it would aim to become more attractive to business travelers. O'Leary said they'd make up 35 percent of overall clients in the future, up from only 23 percent right now.

Ryanair discovers service

O'Leary told the Sunday edition of Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung newspaper that his airline was planning to sell flights from Europe to the US for as little as 10 euros per ticket (not including fees).

But the CEO made it clear that would only be possible in about five years' time when the purchase of long-range aircraft would become more affordable again.

He reiterated the carrier's commitment to Germany's Frankfurt-Hahn airport, its most important base in the country. With its extra-long runway, the airport would lend itself perfectly to the use of bigger passenger planes as required for transatlantic flights, Ryanair stated.

The airport at Hahn is located in the rural Hunsruck region, west of Frankfurt, in the state of Rhineland Palatinate.

hg/ipj (Reuters, dpa)

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