Dublin-based budget airline Ryanair Holdings Plc made a loss of 185 million euros ($215.6 million) in the first three months of the financial year, as 99 percent of flights were grounded during the period because of the CCP virus pandemic, the airline announced on Monday.
While the number of flights are gradually returning to normal schedule, the biggest fear is a second wave of the virus in the autumn, the group said.
Over 99 percent of the fleet were grounded between mid-March and June, as a result of widespread, government-imposed lockdowns. The number of passengers was reduced from 42 million to just half a million.
The past quarter was Ryanair’s most challenging period to date in its 35 years of operation. Compared to the same time last year, gross revenue was down 95 percent to 125 million euros ($145.7 million), and net profit went from 243 million euros ($283 million) to a loss of 185 million.
The group expects 40 percent of normal scheduled flights to resume in July, rising to 60 percent in August and 70 percent in September. For the whole financial year, traffic is projected to fall by 60 percent to just 60 million passengers, but even that was an “ambitious target.”
“That traffic would only be delivered on the back of lower airfares, and I’m convinced in actual fact the way to get Europe air travel moving again is with lower fares and price stimulation,” Chief Executive Officer Michael O’Leary said in a Q1 results presentation.
The company’s balance sheet remains “strong”; however, the biggest fear is a second wave in the autumn, Chief Financial Officer Neil Sorahan told analysts.
Aviation is among the heaviest-hit sector by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus (commonly known as the novel coronavirus). The pandemic has already seen the closure of a few EU airlines including Flybe, Germanwings, Level, and Sun Express.
It’s the group’s view that air travel in Europe will remain depressed for the next two to three years.