Ryanair slashed its losses in the final quarter of 2009 thanks to a drop in the cost of fuel.


The budget airline lost 11 million euros in the three months to December 31, down from a 102 million euros loss in the same period in 2008.


The result was helped by a 37% fall in fuel costs, which offset a 12% decline in ticket prices. Revenue increased 1% to 612 million euros.


Passenger numbers grew 14% while growth in ancillary revenue grew at just 6%, suggesting fewer passengers spent on extras such as hold luggage and on-board dining.


Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary said the results were “disappointing although better than expected”.


And he claimed the airline would continue to pick up market share from rival airlines.


“Market conditions remain difficult, although the increasing pace of consolidation and closures among our competitors allied to Ryanair’s continuing fleet expansion will lead to further market share gains this year, in particular in Italy, Scandinavia, Spain and the UK,” he said.


The carrier expects to make full-year net profits of about 275 million euros at its financial year end at the end of March.


The Ryanair results come in the same week as British Airways is expected to announce a sharp jump in losses for the final quarter of last year.