Shares in Ryanair rose almost 5% early on Monday (7 November), after the budget airline reported an increase in profits in the first half of the year, despite a challenging environment generated by Britain's vote in favour of leaving the European Union.

In the six months to the end of September, the Irish airline posted a 7% year-on-year increase in profit after tax to €1.17bn, while revenue was 2% higher than in the corresponding period last year at €4.13bn.

The number of passengers carried in the six month period also increased, rising 12% to 64million, and the FTSE 100-listed airline lifted its long-term traffic forecast by 10% and now expects to carry over 200million passengers per year by March 2024.

Ryanair stated it was confident of delivering growth across Europe, despite the Brexit impact, which has seen it reduce its planned UK growth in 2017 from 12% to about 5%.

Group chief executive Michael O'Leary, who publicly backed the "Remain" campaign in the lead-up to the June referendum, said the results were a "creditable performance" despite the difficult market conditions.

The airline, which launched 73 new routes and opened six new bases in the first half of its financial year, added average fares in the period fell 10% to €50 and the trend could be set to continue.

"Weaker air fares and Brexit uncertainty will be the dominant features of [the second half of the year]," it said in a statement.

O'Leary also cited terrorist attacks and industrial action among air-traffic controllers in France as some of the issues that troubled the airline sector over the last 12 months.

Last month, Ryanair issued a profit warning, blaming the decision on the sharp collapse suffered by the pound in the wake of the Brexit referendum. The Dublin-based carrier cut guidance on full-year profit by 5% to a range between €1.30bn and €1.35bn and said on Monday that it remained "comfortable" with the figure, although it added revenues from fares in the second half of the year are expected to fall from 15% to 13%.