Ryanair (2) Image: Ryanair

Ryanair plans to serve around 180 million passengers within the next decade, 20 million more than it previously targeted.

The Irish airline has forecast 105 million passengers for this year.

The new expectations come after Ryanair posted a 37% rise in profits for the first half of its financial year. The airline's profits hit €1.23 billion (£879m), as revenue jumped 14% to more than €4bn and passenger numbers grew 13% to 58.1 million.

Ryanair also said that it expects its full-year profits to be at the upper-end of its forecast range €1.175bn to €1.225bn.

Michael O'Leary, chief executive, said: "We have enjoyed a bumper summer due to a very rare confluence of favourable events including stronger sterling, adverse weather in northern Europe, reasonably flat industry capacity and further savings on our unhedged fuel."

Price war

Mr O'Leary explained that a price war is already starting in the market, but is adamant that Ryanair will continue to slash prices in order to gain customers.

As part of its plans to increase its passenger numbers, the airline will be increasing its capacity in Denmark, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain and the UK.

Germany is one particular area where Ryanair plans to undercut its rivals on price. It is currently dominated by German carrier Lufthansa, with Ryanair accountable for just 5% of flights. It plans to lift that figure to 40%, carrying 20 million passengers by 2020.

"We are going to trash everyone on fares," Mr O'Leary has said previously.