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Sasko Lazarov
Turbulent Times

Ryanair lost €355 million last year amid 'fragile' recovery in air travel from the pandemic

The low-cost airline said it hopes to return to profitability in the current financial year,

RYANAIR HAS POSTED a €355 million loss for the 12 months to the end of March after another pandemic-curbed year for air travel.

The low-cost airline said it hopes to return to profitability in the current financial year but the sector’s recovery “remains fragile”, Ryanair group chief executive Michael O’Leary said.

Amid the uncertainty caused by the war in Ukraine and the emergence of new variants of Covid-19 like Omicron just after Christmas — both of which damaged “close-in bookings and yields for the Christmas and Easter peak travel periods” — O’Leary said this morning that the Irish carrier would not be able to provide profit guidance for the rest of the year. 

Last year’s €355 million full-year loss compares to the over €1 billion loss incurred by the airline in the first pandemic year.

It reflects a strong recovery in bookings as Covid restrictions were gradually removed throughout last year, however traffic is yet to return to pre-pandemic levels.

Ryanair said this morning it carried 97 million passengers last year, up from just 27 million in the previous year but down from a record 149 million in its last pre-Covid financial year.

It announced plans this morning to grow passenger traffic to 165 million this year.

“While bookings have improved in recent weeks, the booking curve remains much closer-in than was typical (pre-Covid) at this time of year,” O’Leary said in a statement.

However, he added that there is still “pent-up demand” for air travel and Ryanair is cautiously optimistic that its peak summer fares were higher last year than the year previous. 

“ This recovery, however, remains fragile,” O’Leary added.

This was clearly evidenced by the sudden, and unexpected, emergence of the Omicron variant pre-Christmas and the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February, both of which immediately damaged close-in bookings and yields for the Christmas and Easter peak travel periods. 

“Given the continuing risk of adverse news flows on both these topics, it is impractical (if not impossible) to provide a sensible or accurate profit guidance range at this time,” he said.

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