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Ryanair Boss Michael O'Leary's Drive To Stop Annoying Passengers Pays Off

25/09/2014 13:17 BST | Updated 25/09/2014 13:59 BST
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CEO of Irish budget airline Ryanair Michael O'Leary gives a press conference, on January 22, 2014 in Brussels. AFP PHOTO/BELGA PHOTO KRISTOF VAN ACCOM (Photo credit should read KRISTOF VAN ACCOM/AFP/Getty Images)

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary's mission to "stop pissing people off" is showing signs of paying off after the airline upgraded its forecast for annual passenger traffic.

The Dublin-based carrier has softened its stance on baggage charges and booking conditions and introduced allocated seating and a new business service in an effort to improve its customer experience.

O'Leary signalled that Ryanair would undergo a rebrand last September, telling shareholders: "We should try to eliminate things that unnecessarily piss people off."

The airline chief executive today told shareholders in Dublin that the initiatives meant the airline now expected to fly 87 million customers in the year to March 31, compared with the 86 million previously forecast.

He said: "Our customers and our shareholders have responded favourably to our improving customer experience, our better digital platform and the positive initial uptake of our Business Plus service."

O'Leary also raised Ryanair's profits guidance towards the upper end of its previously guided range of between 620 million euro (£484 million) and 650 million euro (£507 million).

The signs of improved demand gave a boost to shares in other carriers, with easyJet and British Airways owner International Airlines Group up 2%.

Ryanair said it also expected to benefit from the opening of new bases in Cologne, Gdansk, Glasgow and Warsaw, as well as greater flight frequencies and schedules from Dublin to UK cities and European capitals.

O'Leary warned there was still uncertainty over the full-year performance due to little visibility on fare yields in the October to March period.

Ryanair's post-tax profits were 8% lower at 523 million euro (£408 million) in the year to March 31 after a price war left average fares 4% lower at a time of rising fuel costs.