Ryanair reports €96m loss due to Omicron impact on Christmas and New Year travel

Ryanair reports €96m loss due to Omicron impact on Christmas and New Year travel

IRISH no frills airline Ryanair has confirmed a net loss of €96million for the final three months of 2021, due to the spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19.

The Dublin-headquartered company, headed up by Group CEO Michael O’Leary, posted figures for Q3 on January 31, revealing the loss in bookings and fares, following a “strong traffic rebound” in Q2 due to the implementation of Covid passports and the lifting of pandemic-related travel restrictions.

“We delivered a strong traffic rebound in Q2 following the successful rollout of the EU Digital Covid Certificates in July, and the relaxation of EU travel restrictions,” Mr O’Leary said.

“Q3 got off to a good start with strong bookings for the October mid-term break, and less confusion about the UK Government’s absurd ‘traffic light’ system.

“Ryanair’s load active/yield passive recovery strategy saw Oct. traffic rise to 11.3m – an 84 per cent load factor.

“Our November load factor improved to 86 per cent (10.2m guests), albeit at lower fares,” he added.

“The sudden emergence of the Omicron variant in late November and the media hysteria it generated in December forced many European governments to reimpose travel restrictions in the run-up to Christmas, which significantly weakened peak Christmas and New Year bookings and fares.

“As a result, December traffic slowed to just 9.5million, with a lower 81 per cent load factor, well behind the expected target of 11million guests.

“January capacity was cut by 33 per cent on 22 December, which lowered the January traffic target from 10million to between 6-7million customers,” he confirmed.

Now, with covid restrictions lifted across Britain and loosening across Europe, Mr O’Leary claims the airline is looking forward to more profitable times ahead.

“We hope that the rollout of booster vaccines across Europe in recent weeks, and growing evidence that Omicron is less virulent than other variants, will enable EU governments to remove travel restrictions and restore consumer confidence in inter EU air travel well in advance of Easter,” he explained.

“The Covid-19 crisis accelerated the collapse of many European airlines including Flybe, Norwegian, Germanwings, Level, Stobart and led to material capacity cuts at many others,” he added.

“The tsunami of State Aid from EU governments to their insolvent flag carriers - Alitalia, Air France/KLM, Iberia, LOT, Lufthansa, SAS, TAP and others - will distort EU competition and prop up high cost, inefficient, flag carriers for some years.

“Ryanair was one of very few airlines during the Covid crisis to place significant new aircraft orders, to expand our airport partnerships and to secure lower operating costs so that we can pass on even lower fares on many new routes during the post Covid recovery.

“Together with our airport partners, we are leading Europe’s traffic recovery and we plan to deliver accelerated traffic growth and jobs over the next five years.”