RYANAIR chief executive Michael O'Leary plans to double capacity in the next five years to carry 12m passengers by 2004.
As the low-cost airline announced record profits of £9.3m, a rise of 17% on the previous year, O'Leary claimed the scope for growth for Ryanair within the UKand Europe is unlimited.
He said:"In the US, low-cost carrier Southwest Airlines is carrying about 44m passengers. Europe has a similar-sized population to the whole of the US, so the growth here is unlimited.
"Ryanair is experiencing continuing growth as a time when BA and Lufthansa are struggling to compete.
"Analysts are drawing the conclusion that if you want to invest in an airline in Europe, you are far better off investing in one of the low-cost carriers."
The airline achieved an 8% rise in first-quarter passengers for the three months until June 30 and is on target to hit the 6m passenger figure by the end of the year.
O'Leary said the airline will take five additional aircraft each year for the next five years and plans to open five or six new routes.
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