Ryanair has posted a net loss of €273m (£233m) as pandemic travel restrictions continue to “wreak havoc” on the airline industry.
Despite the loss, the Irish airline took home some €371m in the weeks to 30 June, up from €125m in the same period last year.
Shares were up 4.1 per cent in its afternoon trading, at around 16.3p per share following the announcement.
“Covid-19 continued to wreak havoc on our business during Q1 with most Easter flights cancelled and a slower than expected easing of EU government travel restrictions into May and June,” chief executive Michael O’Leary said.
“Significant uncertainty around travel green lists (particularly in the UK) and extreme government caution in Ireland meant that Q1 bookings were close in and at low fares.”
Signs of recovery
Air traffic in its first-quarter rebounded from 0.5m to 8.1m as capacity recovered in May and June, Ryanair reported.
Airlines have been bolstering their routes and destinations ahead of a post-pandemic travel boom, which has seen Ryanair introduce 379 new routes and 10 new bases.
“The 1 July rollout of EU Digital Covid Certificates and the scrapping of quarantine for vaccinated arrivals to the UK from mid-July has seen a surge in bookings over recent weeks,” the airline boss said, adding that pricing remains below pre-pandemic levels.
O’Leary said that the airline has forecast traffic to lift from over 5m to a near 9m in July and more than 10m in August – providing there are no “further Covid setbacks in Europe”.
For the full year, Europe’s largest low-cost carrier said it expected to fly between 90 and 100m passengers, up from an earlier forecast of 80-100m.
Richard Flood, investment manager at Brewin Dolphin, said: “Ryanair’s first quarter update confirms what we already knew: the summer of 2021 has got off to a slower start than hoped.
“Ryanair, though, remains in rude health – both financially and operationally – and is poised like a stretched elastic band to benefit from the pent-up demand for travel and resume normal operations as soon as conditions allow.”
Although activity is on the uplift, sudden restrictions could quickly see the gains the airline has secured in recent weeks evaporate, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown Laura Hoy explained.
“Ryanair’s results painted a rosy picture of the future for European air travel as vaccination passports open the door to a summer travel season.
“Unfortunately, Ryanair is still at the mercy of the virus and, although a recovery is materialising, the group noted that travel within Europe will be depressed for the foreseeable future.”