Ryanair announces a £168m loss but will keep flying to Spain

Ryanair announces a £168m loss and says ‘a second wave of coronavirus across Europe is our biggest fear’ – but vows to keep flying from the UK to Spain

  • Ryanair had to ground its fleet after Covid-19 travel bans and lockdowns  
  • Airline says it suffered the ‘most challenging’ quarter in its 35-year history 
  • Carried 500k from April to June compared with 41.9m in same period last year
  • Revenue collapsed from £2.1bn to £113m and share price falls 8% this morning

Ryanair today revealed losses of £168million during the coronavirus pandemic but insisted it will continue flying to Spain after UK tourists were told not to travel there.

The low-cost airline, like its competitors, was forced to ground its fleet as Covid-19 wreaked havoc on timetables with travel bans and lockdowns introduced worldwide.

Ryanair said it suffered the ‘most challenging’ quarter in its 35-year history after carrying 500,000 passengers from April to June compared with 41.9million in the same period last year. Its share price fell 8 per cent in early trading this morning.

Meanwhile revenue collapsed from £2.1billion to £113million, with the Dublin-based carrier saying said a second wave of the disease was now its ‘biggest fear’. 

But chief financial officer Neil Sorahan told BBC Radio 4 today that it would not cut flights to Spain, saying: ‘As things stand, the market remains open, the schedules remain in place and we continue to operate in and out of Spain as normal.’ 

Ryanair said it suffered the ‘most challenging’ quarter in its 35-year history (file picture)

Speaking about the UK government advising against non-essential travel to Spain due to coronavirus, he told Reuters: ‘I think it is regrettable, very disappointing.

‘I have no doubt that we will see other localised outbreaks and we need to be flexible enough to deal with them as they arise over the next number of weeks and months.’

European shares slump with travel and leisure leading today’s falls 

European shares fell today as travel stocks slumped in early deals after Britain imposed a quarantine on travellers returning from Spain because of a surge of coronavirus cases.

The pan-European STOXX 600 fell 0.5 per cent this morning after recording its first weekly fall in four on Friday.

Travel & leisure slumped 3.2 per cent, with UK-based airlines and tour operators such as TUI, easyjet and British Airways-owner IAG falling between 8 per cent and 13.5 per cent.

Europe’s biggest holiday company TUI said yesterday it had decided to cancel all holidays to mainland Spain up to and including Sunday August 9.

Spanish stocks fell 1.2 per cent, while the Irish stocks benchmark dropped 1.4 per cent after airline Ryanair said it was impossible to say whether it might turn an annual profit due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

He added that the Spanish government has made clear that the country remained open for tourists, with infection levels low in much of the country.

A Ryanair spokesman said: ‘The past quarter was the most challenging in Ryanair’s 35-year history.

‘Covid-19 grounded the group’s fleet for almost four months (from mid-March to end June) as EU governments imposed flight or travel bans and widespread population lockdowns.

‘During this time, group airlines repatriated customers and operated rescue flights for different EU governments, as well as flying a series of medical emergency/PPE flights across Europe.’

Flights were resumed on July 1, and the company said it aimed to operate around 40 per cent of its normal July schedule, increasing to 60 per cent in August and 70 per cent in September.

Ryanair Holdings plc said it expected air travel to be depressed in Europe for the next two to three years, adding: ‘This will create opportunities for Ryanair to grow its network, and expand its fleet, to take advantage of lower airport and aircraft cost opportunities that will inevitably arise.’

It added that it could not provide any guidance for profits in this financial year, but added that it expected to carry 60million passengers this year.

It said: ‘FY21 will be a very challenging year for the Ryanair Group of airlines.

‘It is impossible to predict how long the Covid-19 pandemic will persist, and a second wave of Covid-19 cases across Europe in late autumn (when the annual flu season commences) is our biggest fear right now.

‘Hopefully EU governments, by implementing effective track and tracing systems, and EU citizens by complying with recommended face masks, rigorous hand hygiene and other measures, will avoid the need for further lockdowns or restrictions on intra-EU flights.

A man stands at a Ryanair check-in desk at Barcelona-El Prat Airport yesterday

‘It is vital that European economies begin the process of recovery this summer to minimise the damage arising from the Covid-19 pandemic and this recovery can only be led by intra-EU air travel which is the engine of EU growth and economic activity.’

Over the weekend, Britain – a significant market for Ryanair – decided to re-impose a quarantine on flights from Spain, which is experiencing a surge in infections.

With effect from yesterday, passengers arriving in Britain from Spain must now self-isolate for two weeks.

In response to the coronavirus-induced downturn, Ryanair is seeking to axe 3,000 jobs and has not ruled out further cutbacks.

Last week it outlined plans to close its Frankfurt-Hahn base in Germany – and has stated that other hubs could follow.

The carrier meanwhile aims to reach agreements with major trade unions to lower its wage bill and limit the number of job cuts.

Travellers stand in front of baggage drop-off desks at Madrid-Barajas Airport yesterday

Ryanair said that it hopes that European Union citizens comply with recommendations to wear face masks and practice other measures to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

It added that it hoped governments develop effective tracing and quarantining measures to avoid the need for another wave to restrictions on intra-EU flights or lockdowns.

‘It is vital that European economies begin the process of recovery this summer to minimise the damage arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and this recovery can only be led by intra-EU air travel which is the engine of EU growth and economic activity,’ said the airline.

Ryanair’s four divisions comprise its main Irish operations, Austrian-based Lauda, Polish unit Buzz, and Malta Air.

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