Ryanair (RYA.IR) said it must continue to cut fares in the coming months amid “hugely uncertain prospects” as it loses €96 million (£80 million, $107) in the final three months of 2021. million) reported.
Ireland’s budget airline missed its targets in December after the spread of Omicron forced governments to re-limit international travel.
“The sudden emergence of the Omicron variant and the media hysteria it caused in December forced many European governments to re-impose travel restrictions in the run-up to Christmas, significantly weakening peak bookings and fares for Christmas and New Year,” the airline said. .
Despite the holiday season, only 9.5 million passengers traveled with Ryanair in December. The goal was to reach 11 million.
Chief executive Michael O’Leary said that while there has been a “very strong recovery” in bookings in recent weeks as concerns about the Omicron variant began to ease, the outlook remained hugely uncertain.
Read more: Cost of Living: Lowest-income households spend a third of their budget on food as inflation bites
Ryanair added that the first three months of 2022 will require “significant price stimulus at lower prices” to attract customers, which could weigh on profits.
“While recent bookings have improved, following the easing of travel restrictions, the booking curve remains very late and close, so Q4 traffic requires significant price stimulus at lower prices,” said O’Leary.
As COVID restrictions begin to ease across Europe, Ryanair expects an increase in summer bookings, with a 2022 schedule of 114% from 2019, the last year unaffected by the pandemic.
It also plans to grow to 225 million passengers per year by 2026, up from the earlier forecast of 200 million, compared to a pre-COVID-19 peak of 149 million.
Ryanair reaffirmed its expectation that it would fly just under 100 million passengers this fiscal year, which ends on March 31. It also reiterated its projected full-year loss of between €250 million and €450 million.
Read more: EasyJet halves losses despite Omicron hit
The airline’s loss of €96 million for the third quarter to the end of December is smaller than the €321 million loss it suffered a year earlier.
The number of customers was more than three times higher at 31.1 million and turnover of £1.47 billion was 331% higher than in 2020.