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Ryanair loses €306 million in the last three months of 2020 as Covid hits Christmas traffic

The no-frills airline said it’s facing “the most challenging year in Ryanair’s 35-year history”.

Image: Sam Boal

RYANAIR POSTED A €306 million loss in the third quarter of its 2021 financial year, warning also of a huge annual loss in “the most challenging year” in its 35-year history.

The Irish no-frills airline’s loss after taxation in the three months to 31 December contrasted sharply with a net profit of €88 million in the same period last year.

Ryanair has also forecast an annual net loss for the current financial year of between €850 million and €950 million.

“Covid-19 continues to wreak havoc across the industry,” Ryanair said in a results statement.

“Christmas and New Year traffic was severely impacted by UK travel bans imposed at short notice by many EU governments on December 19 and 20.”

Passenger numbers tanked 78% in the reporting period to just 8.1 million people. That compared with 35.9 million last time around.

“FY21 will continue to be the most challenging year in Ryanair’s 35-year history,” the company added.

The most recent lockdowns and restrictions were predicted to slash annual traffic to between 26 million and 30 million people. That compared with prior guidance of up to 35 million.

“The third quarter has obviously been heavily influenced by the continuing Covid travel restrictions,” said Chief Executive Michael O’Leary in a video accompanying the earnings release.

“We had expected that things would continue to recover in Q3. But in the week before Christmas the emergence of the UK and South African variants led to further severe travel restrictions, particularly in flights to and from the UK, and that had an adverse impact on the Q3 numbers.”

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In an interview on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, O’Leary said that he hopes that air travel will be back to some semblance of normality by June. He said he optimistic about a resurgence of business at Shannon and Dublin, he is less hopeful about Cork’s future. 

“We don’t think there will be a big recovery in Cork as there is still a very high cost of operations in Cork. In fact, Cork Airport is talking about price increases and there will not be a rapid recovery in airports where prices are increasing. We need much lower access costs if we are to restore Irish tourism.

“Irish tourism isn’t going to survive on a bunch of staycations, we need to welcome back European visitors.”

With reporting by Garreth MacNamee

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