Low cost airline Ryanair says it expects to prosper once COVID-19 vaccines are rolled out across Europe as it heads for a full-year loss of almost €1bn. Tony McDonough reports
Ryanair is heading for a mega full-year loss of almost €1bn (880m) with the COVID-19 causing the most turbulent year in its 35-year history.
However, the low cost airline, which pre-COVID operated more than 30 routes out of Liverpool John Lennon Airport, says it is ready to prosper again once vaccines are rolled out with a number of rivals not surviving the crisis.
In the three months to December 31, Ryanair saw passenger numbers plummet to 8.1m from 35.9m the year before amid ongoing European restrictions and lockdowns. Revenue was €340m against almost €2bn last year.
Consequently, the company recorded a loss of €306m in the quarter, down from a profit of €88m last year. It is now on course for a loss of between €850m and €950m for the full year to March 31, 2021. This would be its first full-year loss since 2009 but less than the full-year loss of £1.2bn already reported by its chief rival easyJet.
In its third quarter update, Ryanair said: “COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc across the industry. Christmas and New Year traffic was severely impacted by UK travel bans imposed at short notice by many EU governments.”
During the pandemic a number of European airlines collapsed including Britain’s Flybe, along with Germanwings, Level and Montenegro Airlines. Norwegian has already entered a creditor protection examinership and Eurocontrol predicts more EU airline failures in 2021.
Ryanair claims the state aid given to flag carriers including Alitalia, Air France/KLM, LOT, Lufthansa, SAS and TAP to keep the afloat is “illegal” and “distorts competition and the level playing field across EU aviation”.
It added: “We expect intra-European capacity to be significantly reduced for the next few years, which will create growth opportunities for Ryanair to take advantage of recovery growth incentives, as it takes delivery of 210 new (Boeing 737s.
“As soon as the COVOID-19 virus recedes – and it will over the coming months as EU Govts accelerate vaccine rollouts – Ryanair and its partner airports will rapidly restore schedules, recover lost traffic, help the nations of Europe to reboot their tourism industry, and create jobs for young people across the cities and beaches of the EU.
“We take some comfort from the success of the UK vaccine programme which is on target to vaccinate almost 50% of the UK population (30m) by the end of March. The EU now needs to step up the slow pace of its rollout programme to match the UK’s performance.”