Ryanair nudges up annual traffic forecast, first-quarter loss smaller than expected

FILE PHOTO: A Ryanair Boeing 737-800 aircraft approaches Paris-Beauvais airport in Tille, northern France, September 27, 2018. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

DUBLIN (Reuters) – Ryanair on Monday nudged up its forecast for full-year traffic on strong summer bookings but said fares remained well below pre-pandemic levels as it reported an after-tax loss of 273 million euros ($321.5 million) for the three months to the end of June.

The Irish airline, Europe’s largest low-cost carrier, said it expected to fly between 90 and 100 million passengers in its financial year to end-March 2022, up from an earlier forecast of 80-100 million.

Ryanair flew 27.5 million passengers in the year to March 2021, down from a pre-COVID-19 peak of 149 million the previous year.

The loss of 273 million euros in the first quarter was slightly better than the 283 million euro loss forecast by a company poll of analysts.

Group Chief Executive Michael O’Leary said in a statement that it remained impossible to provide a meaningful profit forecast for the financial year to end-March 2022, but reiterated that the airline was cautiously expecting to post a small loss or break even.

The airline expects to fly 9 million passengers in July, at the top of a previous forecast range of 7-9 million, rising to 10 million in August, O’Leary said.

The airline, which faces a web of overlapping COVID-19 travel restrictions across Europe that has hamstrung the industry, said it expects a “strong recovery” in the winter and next summer as rivals cut back on capacity.

Ryanair, which has one of the strongest balance sheets in the airline industry, said it had cash reserves of 4.06 billion euros, up from 3.15 billion at the end of March following a 1.2 billion euro bond sale in May.

($1 = 0.8490 euros)

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