Ryanair announced today it would narrow its loss forecast for the year ended 31 March, as for the first time in two years passenger numbers topped pre-Covid levels.
The low-cost airline said it was expecting net losses to be between €350m and €400m, after previously guiding to be between €250m and €400m.
Just last week, Ryanair’s chief executive Michael O’Leary said losses would be near the middle of the forecast range. “We think we’ll be somewhere in the middle of that range,” he told journalists on Thursday.
The carrier said that last month 11.2 million people had flown aboard its planes, compared to 0.5 million last year and 10.9 million in March 2019. Load factor was around 87 per cent, in line with O’Leary’s forecasts.
As for the first time Ryanair carried more passengers than during pre-Covid times, full-year traffic rose to more than 97 million passengers – in line with previous forecasts but below the 2019 peak of 149 million.
Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Ryanair added it was increasing its fuel hedging to 80 per cent cover for 2023 – 65 per cent locked at $630 per metric tonne while 15 per cent capped at $775.
To protect itself against price fluctuations, the airline had previously hedged out 80 per cent of its need for the first half of FY23 and 70 per cent for the second half.
Despite the hedging out, Ryanair said in early March the impact on oil prices would cost an additional €50m, which could put its recovery in doubt, City A.M. reported.
“We do have a 20 per cent [to be bought] and that will cost us probably another €50m over the next 12 months, which is not a huge amount but it certainly makes the post-Covid recovery much more difficult.”
Costs, the company said, are expected to remain robust for the whole of this year and whether the airline would report profits for the current financial year depended on traffic recovery and fares.
“There’s a chance but it all depends on pricing,” O’Leary said. “I mean, certainly our costs are reasonably robust for the next 12 months.”
Ryanair’s Euronext Dublin’s shares went down slightly, 0.78 per cent, to €13.43.