A member of the Ryanair cabin crew looks out the window at Ryanair aircraft.
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LONDON – Ryanair expects this fiscal year to be “the greatest challenge” in its 35-year history, the company said on Monday as governments tighten travel restrictions to curb new varieties of Covid-19.
The low-cost airline is on the way to a net loss of between 850 million euros (1.03 billion US dollars) and 950 million euros for the financial year ending in March 2021. In the three months to December, a net loss of 306 million euros was reported.
“Covid-19 continues to wreak havoc across the industry,” Ryanair said in a statement. It added that Christmas and New Years traffic had been “severely affected” by travel bans imposed on British travelers in late December.
A number of European governments decided to restrict flights leaving the UK before Christmas after it became known that a new variant of Covid-19 identified in the county was rapidly spreading. This contributed to an 83% decrease in traffic in December for Ryanair.
The EU now needs to accelerate the slow pace of its rollout program to match the UK’s performance.
The airline “expects the latest lockdowns and pre-arrival Covid testing requirements to significantly reduce flight schedules and traffic by Easter.”
In the new year, European governments extended or introduced the lockdown as they faced a sharp surge in new infections. More recently, countries in the region have discouraged non-essential travel as they seek to reduce the number of daily cases. It is currently unclear when countries will reopen their economies and encourage overseas travel.
However, European governments are in the process of vaccinating their people in the hope that it will help them get back to normal life more quickly. The introduction of vaccines in Europe, however, faces production, delivery and bureaucracy problems.
“We comfort the success of the UK vaccination program, which aims to vaccinate nearly 50% of the UK population (30 million) by the end of March. The EU must now accelerate the slow pace of its introduction program, which is in line with the UK’s performance,” Ryanair said on Monday.
Ryanair shares have fallen around 12% since the start of the year.