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Ryanair Narrows Full-Year Loss Forecast, Traffic Tops Pre-Pandemic Levels

By Dave Simpson

Ryanair RYA.I has narrowed the range for its forecast annual loss as passenger numbers topped pre-pandemic levels for the first time ahead of the key Easter holiday period.

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Europe's largest low-cost carrier said that it now expects a net loss between €350 million and €400 million for the year to 31 March 31 2022.

It had previously guided the market to a loss of between €250 million and €450 million with Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary last week pointing to the middle of the range and telling Reuters the airline was well placed for the coming year depending on traffic recovery and fares.

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Ryanair said it had flown 11.2 million people last month compared to just 0.5 million during lockdown a year ago and 10.9 million in March 2019, the first time it had carried more passengers in a given month than in the corresponding pre-pandemic period.

That included the impact of Russia's invasion of Ukraine which caused the cancellation of 2,000 flights and the ongoing suspension of activity in Ukraine, where it is one of the largest foreign operators.

While full-year traffic topped 97 million passengers, up from 27.5 million in the previous 12 months, it was still well below a pre-pandemic peak of 149 million.

Ahead of the what O'Leary has called the "critical" Easter holiday period, Ryanair's load factor - a measure of how well an airline is filling available seats - nudged up to 87% in March, in line with a forecast made by the CEO in January of almost 90% by April.

The airline also said it had increased its fuel hedging to 80% cover for 2023, with approximately 65% locked-in at $630 per metric tonne through jet swaps - a hedging tool - and 15% caps at $775.

Ryanair had previously hedged 80% of its needs for the first half of 2023 and 70% for the second half.

Almost 10% of its fuel requirements for the first half of its 2024 financial year are hedged at $760 per metric tonne, it added.

The expected annual loss would be an improvement on the €815 million after-tax loss recorded in 2021.

Low cost rival easyJet EZJ.L said on Monday 4 April that it cancelled some flights to and from Britain after a new COVID-19 surge left it short of staff.

Ryanair Expects Summer Fares To Be 5%-10% Higher Than In 2019

The above news was followed by news that Ryanair RYA.I expects average air fares during this year's summer peak season to be 5%-10% higher than pre-pandemic prices in the same period of 2019, group chief executive Michael O'Leary was quoted as saying on Tuesday 5 April.

Lower capacity and increased passenger demand are already driving fares higher for those booking flights from June onwards, O'Leary told The Irish Independent newspaper, citing "very strong" forward bookings .

"What we're seeing at the moment is prices are slightly lower than they were in 2019, pre-COVID, through March, April and May. They're somewhere between 5% and 10% higher at the moment through June, July, August and September," O'Leary said.

"I think fares will be up this year in the peak summer months by between 5% and 10%."

O'Leary, who told the newspaper he had no intention of retiring after nearly 30 years in charge, said it would be too optimistic to say that COVID-19 is over for the airline industry but he does not expect any "COVID scares" this summer.

"Travel is recovering strongly. I think people are fed up. We have been locked up at home for the last two years on Zoom calls. They want to go travel again. Families want to go on holidays again," he said.

"We see that very strongly this Easter and also this summer. The forward bookings are very strong, but I think there will still be some disruptions."

News by Reuters, edited by Hospitality Ireland. Click subscribe to sign up for the Hospitality Ireland print edition.

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