Ryanair has reported profits of £2m per day in the last three months of 2022, normally a spell when carriers struggle to make money.
The Dublin-based airline made a net profit of €211m (£185m) between October and December last year, while filling 93 per cent of its seats.
Most carriers lose money in winter, but Ryanair made an average of almost £5 in profit from each of the 38.4 million passengers flown – citing “strong pent-up demand”.
Europe’s biggest budget airline has been expanding rapidly as the world emerges from the worst of the coronavirus pandemic. It now has 40 per cent of the market in Italy, 38 per cent in Poland and 58 per cent in its home country, Ireland.
Michael O’Leary, chief executive of the Ryanair Group, said: “Our routes team continue to negotiate traffic recovery growth deals with airport partners as competitors struggle to recover capacity, down as much as 20 per cent this winter, and grapple with rising costs.
“With Asian tourists now returning and a strong US dollar encouraging Americans to explore Europe, we’re seeing robust demand for Easter and summer 2023 flights.”
The airline now has 84 Boeing 737 Max aircraft, which carry eight more passengers than its main 737-800 version and burn significantly less fuel.
The figures were announced just 50 hours after Flybe, the troubled UK regional airline, went into administration.
All flights have been grounded and almost 300 staff have lost their jobs.
Neil Sorahan, Ryanair Group’s chief financial officer, told BBC 5 Live: “We’re happy to offer jobs to their pilots, their cabin crew, their engineers and their IT professionals.”
He added that sales were strong from the UK, saying: “People want to get away from all this bad news and get some sun on their back.”
The airline has increased its profit forecast for the full year ending in March to around €1.375bn (£1.2bn) – though it warns: “This guidance remains heavily dependent upon avoiding adverse events in Q4 (such as Covid and/or the war in Ukraine).”