Ryanair forecasts record annual profit, promises regular dividend as fares soar

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A Ryanair plane prepares to land at Manchester Airport in Manchester northern England.

A Ryanair plane prepares to land at Manchester Airport in Manchester northern England, March 31, 2016. REUTERS/Phil Noble/File Photo Acquire Licensing Rights

DUBLIN, Nov 6 (Reuters) - Ryanair (RYA.I) on Monday forecast a record annual profit and promised to pay investors a regular dividend for the first time after fares soared 24% during its key summer season.

Europe's largest airline by passenger numbers said it expects an after-tax profit of between 1.85 billion and 2.05 billion euros for the year to end-March, easily beating its previous record of 1.45 billion euros in 2018.

The low-cost pioneer earned 2.18 billion euros in the six months to the end of September, the first half of its financial year, 59% ahead of its previous record for the period, set last year.

Traffic in the period was up 11% to 105 million passengers while fares were 24% higher than last year, the airline said in a statement.

The airline announced its maiden ordinary dividend of 400 million euros, split between an interim payment of 200 million euros in February and a final dividend of 200 million euros in September next year.

For subsequent financial years under a new dividend policy, Ryanair plans to return approximately 25% of the after-tax profit posted the previous year by way of ordinary dividend, the airline said.

Writing by Conor Humphries; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

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