July 23, 2018 / 5:01 AM / in 3 months

Ryanair says summer fares weaker than expected

DUBLIN, July 23 (Reuters) - Ryanair on Monday warned that average fares would be lower than expected during its key summer period due to high competition, unusually hot weather in Northern Europe and uncertainty caused by a series of strikes.

Weaker fares combined with higher staff and fuel costs caused profit for the three months to the end of June, the first quarter of its financial year, to fall by 20 percent compared with last year, it said.

But the profit of 319 million euros ($374.4 million) for the first quarter, was in line with earlier guidance and slightly ahead of a forecast of 305 million euros, according to a company poll of analysts.

Ryanair reaffirmed its forecast for profit for the year to be between 1.25 billion euros and 1.35 billion euros, down from a record 1.45 billion in the year to March 31. The average analyst forecast is 1.31 billion, according to the poll.

Ryanair in May forecast a 5 percent decline in average fares in the first quarter and a rise of 4 percent in the second quarter. On Monday it said fares fell 4 percent in the first quarter but would rise by only 1 percent in the second.

It reaffirmed its guidance for fares for the year to end-March 2019 to be broadly flat year on year. ($1 = 0.8522 euros) (Reporting by Conor Humphries; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

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