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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 June, 2004, 06:57 GMT 07:57 UK
Stormy profits ride for Ryanair
Ryanair is in the middle of a row with the EU over Charleroi
No-frills airline Ryanair has announced a drop in profits for the first time since stock market flotation in 1997.

Pre-tax profits fell to 228.48m euros (152m;$282m), down from 264.55m euros.

The company has slashed ticket prices to fend off competition in its rapidly expanding network and expects passenger traffic to grow by 20% in the next year

Its figures were in line with City forecasts, analysts having slashed their expectations when the airline issued a profit warning in January.

"Our outlook for the coming 12 months remains very conservative," said chief executive Michael O'Leary.

EU row

Last week, Ryanair said it would appeal against an EU order to repay some subsidies it received for using Charleroi airport in Belgium.

The European Commission told the Irish carrier in February to repay millions of euros in subsidies which, it said, amounted to illegal state aid.

Ryanair denounced the ruling, describing it as a setback for competition and cheap fares in Europe.

The firm said it had filed an appeal to the European Court of First Instance.

The BBC's Simon Montague
"Ryanair admits it is flying into stiff headwinds"

Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary
"Certain loss-making airlines will go bust"

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