DUBLIN, IRELAND — Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary has stated that the airline industry is not currently feeling the effects of an economic slowdown, as the company has seen record bookings in the early days of the year.

Furthermore, despite a decrease in economic growth and increased cost of living in the UK and Europe, customers are still willing to pay higher fares.

"There is an outside prospect this week we might do 5mn for the first time," O'Leary said.

Ryanair announced that it received a record number of bookings last week, with a total of 4.95 million, the highest in the airline's more than 30-year history.

Avolon, a leading aircraft leasing company and the world's second-largest, has forecasted that global air traffic will return to pre-pandemic levels by mid-year, driven by China's removal of pandemic restrictions.

Ryanair has already resumed its flight schedules to the level of 2019, however, CEO Michael O'Leary cautioned that the recovery is still at risk of a sudden drop in demand, which an escalation in the Russia-Ukraine war or a resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic could cause.

"There is undoubtedly strength in bookings and pricing at the moment. And if that continues through into Easter and the peak summer travel without any black swan event, then I think we could see all the airlines do very well in Europe this year," O'Leary said.

The Irish low-cost operator has projected that it will transport a record number of 168 million passengers by the end of the fiscal year-end in March, surpassing the previous record of 149 million prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The company recently revised its earnings forecast, now expecting a profit after tax of between €1.33 billion and €1.423 billion, an increase from the previous prediction of €1 billion to €1.2 billion.

Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary has warned that the company's profitability may be impacted over the next 12 months as the airline's exposure to fluctuating oil prices increases when some fuel hedges expire in April. Despite this, O'Leary stated that the current demand for air travel appears to compensate for these price increases.