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Ryanair expects passenger numbers to fall by nearly 50% this year

The low-cost airline is preparing to lose €200 million in the first quarter as a result of Covid-19.

Image: LEAH FARRELL

RYANAIR EXPECTS TO lose €200 million in the first quarter of the year “due to a substantial decline in traffic and pricing” as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a statement released this morning, the low-cost carrier said the group is preparing to carry just 80 million passengers in its current fiscal year, down nearly 50% from its original target of 154 million.

Ryanair said that it “expects to operate less than 1% of its scheduled flying programme” in the first quarter, which covers April to June.  

“Some return to flight services is expected in Quarter Two (July — September) and Ryanair expects to carry no more than 50% of its original Quarter Two traffic target of 44.6 million, as bookings will be impacted by public health restrictions (temperature checks and face coverings for passengers and staff) and quarantine requirements,” the statement said.

The airline group also announced its results for the last fiscal year.

Although after-tax group profits were up by 13% to over €1 billion, the grounding of its fleet in March — the last month of the previous financial period — cut the final figure by “over €40 million”.

Passenger numbers grew in the trading year by 4% to 148.6 million, despite a reduction of full-year traffic by 5 million as a result of the fleet grounding.

In the statement, Ryanair also repeated its commitment to refusing government rescue funding during the current crisis.

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Taking aim at some of its European competitors like Lufthansa and Air France, which have received multi-billion euro bailout packages from the governments of Germany, France and the Netherlands, Ryanair said that it “will not request or receive state aid”. 

Ryanair said it predicts that “the competitive landscape in Europe” will be “distorted by unprecedented quantums of state aid”. 

“We, therefore, expect that traffic on reduced flight schedules will be subject to significant price discounting, and below-cost selling, from these flag carriers with huge state aid war chests.”

Instead, the airline reiterated its commitment to cost-cutting measures and said it is in consultation with unions about base closures, pay cuts and “up to 3,000 job cuts”, mostly for pilots and cabin crew.

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