StockMarketWire.com - Budget carrier Ryanair said it swung to profit in the third quarter of its financial year, as it carried more passengers and charged hire fares.

The company also said it expected its full-year net profit to be close to the mid-point of its most recent guidance of between €0.95bn and €1.05bn.

However, it pushed back its longer-term passenger growth forecasts due to the ongoing grounding of Boeing's 737 MAX aircraft.

Ryanair's net profit for the three months through December amounted to €88m, compared to a €66m loss on-year.

Traffic volumes grew 6% to 36m passengers, with revenue-per-passenger up 13%, comprising 9% higher fares and 21% growth in 'ancillary revenue', which includes extras like food and drink sales.

Ryanair said its fuel bill rose to €0.7bn, due to higher prices and the 6% traffic growth.

Ex-fuel unit costs rose by 1% due to higher staff pay and maintenance costs, due to older aircraft being kept longer in the fleet due to the Boeing 737 MAX delivery delays.

As a result of the ongoing 737 MAX delays, Ryanair said it planned to delay its 200m per year passenger target 'by at least one or two years' to the 2025 or 2026 financial year.

Ryanair had last month upped its annual net profit guidance range following a strong festive season.

On Monday, it said fourth-quarter forward bookings were 1% ahead on-year, at slightly better-than-expected average fares.

Annual traffic was now expected to grow by 8% to 154m passengers, though ancillary revenues were growing at a slower rate, following cabin bag changes in November.

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