Ryanair is hoping to break even in the current year having recorded a full year loss of €815 million in 2021 after undergoing the “most challenging” year thanks to Covid-19.
The financial results for the year ending 31 March, 2021, showed it suffered the losses after traffic fell by 81 per cent from 149 million passengers to 27.5 million due to travel restrictions introduced to fight the pandemic.
This led revenues to also drop by 81 per cent from €8.49 billion to €1.64 billion while operational costs also fell, but by 66 per cent from €7.37 billion to €2.48 billion.
Load factors also fell by 24 percentage points from 95 per cent to 71 per cent.
However, the airline said the results could have been worse without cost cutting across all its airlines while government support schemes helped minimise job losses.
As a result, Ryanair said it still has liquidity of €3.15 billion while it has increased its order of the Boeing 737-8200 Gamechanger aircraft from 135 to 210.
A statement released by the airline said: “Full Year 2021 was the most challenging in Ryanair’s 35-year history.
“Covid-19 saw traffic collapse, almost overnight, from 149 million to just 27 million as many European governments (with little notice or co-ordination) imposed flight bans, travel restrictions and national lockdowns.
“There was a partial recovery during summer 2020, as initial lockdowns eased, however a second Covid-19 wave in Europe followed quickly in the autumn with a third wave in spring.
“This created enormous disruptions and uncertainty for both our customers and our people, as they suffered constantly changing government guidelines, travel bans and restrictions.
“Ryanair responded promptly, and effectively, to this crisis, by working hard to assist millions of customers with flight changes, refunds and changed travel plans.
“We minimised job losses through agreed pay cuts and participation in government job support schemes, while at the same time keeping our pilots, cabin crew and aircraft current and ready to resume service once normality returns.”
While the Ryanair statement did note the loss of certain competitors in the last year, it also criticised some governments for the bail outs given to their airlines.
It added: “The Covid-19 crisis precipitated the collapse of a number of EU airlines including Flybe, Norwegian, Germanwings and Level and substantial capacity cuts at many others.
“It sparked a tsunami of state aid from EU governments to their insolvent flag carriers including Alitalia, AirFrance/KLM, LOT, Lufthansa, SAS, TAP and others, which will distort EU competition and prop up high cost, inefficient, flag carriers for many years.
“We expect intra-European air travel capacity to be materially lower for the foreseeable future.”
It added this would create chances for its own growth and recovery, adding: “This will create opportunities for Ryanair to extend airport growth incentives, as the group takes delivery of 210 new (lower cost) Boeing 737s.
“We are encouraged by the recent release of multiple Covid-19 vaccines and hope that their rollout will facilitate the resumption of intra-Europe air travel and tourism this summer.
“If, as is presently predicted, most European populations are vaccinated by September, then we believe that we can look forward to a strong recovery in air travel, jobs and tourism in H2 of the current fiscal year (FY22).
“The recent strong increases in weekly bookings since early April suggests that this recovery has already begun.”