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01 Feb 2021 | 07:03

Q3 revenues plunge at Ryanair as Covid-19 'wreaks havoc'

(Sharecast News) - Ryanair reported a slump in third-quarter revenues on Monday, as it forecast a near-€1bn annual loss for "the most challenging year" in its 35-year history. The budget carrier carried 8.1m passengers during the three months to 31 December, a 78% slump year-on-year, while the load factor was just 70%, down from 96% in 2019. Revenues tumbled 82% to €341.2bn, pushing the airline into the red; net losses were €306m compared to profits of €88m a year previously.

It was also hit by a €15m exceptional ineffectiveness charge on fuel and currency hedges, due to the ongoing travel restrictions and lower traffic forecasts. Pre-tax losses were €362.5m.

The Dublin-based airline said: "Covid-19 continues to wreak havoc across the industry. Christmas and New Year travel was severely impacted by UK travel bans imposed at short notice by many European Union governments on 19 and 20 December.

"The 2021 full year will continue to be the most challenging year in Ryanair's 35-year history.

"Recently announced Covid lockdowns and travel restrictions across the EU and UK will reduce forecast full-year traffic to between 26m and 30m - previously up to 35m - with more risk towards the lower end of the range."

The airline was, however, more optimistic for 2022.

Chief executive Michael O'Leary told the BBC that the airline expected a "strong recovery" in demand for beach holidays in the summer, especially from families, though he conceded: "It all depends on the continuing success of the vaccine roll out programme."

Ryanair also hit out some of the support provided by EU countries to some of its rivals during the pandemic. It said: "A flood of unlawful state aid has been committed by EU governments to their flag carriers, including Alitalia, Air/France KLM...and others.

"This illegal state aid distorts competition and the level playing field across EU aviation. We expect intra-European capacity to significantly reduced for the few years, which will continue to create growth opportunities for Ryanair.

"As soon as the Covid-19 virus recedes, and it will over the coming months, as EU governments accelerate vaccine rollouts, Ryanair and its partner airports will rapidly restore schedules [and] recover lost traffic."
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