Ryanair expects to lose close to 1 billion euros ($1.2 billion) in its current financial year, by far its worst ever performance, but Europe's largest low-cost carrier this morning said it remains cash rich and expects a "reasonable summer".
The Irish airline forecast a loss of between 850 and 950 million euros in its current financial year, which ends on March 31, around 5 times larger than its previous record annual loss posted in 2009.
"COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc across the industry," Chief Executive Michael O'Leary said in a statement. "FY21 will continue to be the most challenging year in Ryanair's 35 year history."
But he said he expected the recovery to accelerate between July and September, the second quarter of the airline's financial year, before returning to 70% and 90% of normal levels between October and March.
"We are hopeful that moving into peak summer, we're going to see the lockdowns relaxing ... and there is huge pent-up demand out there. I think it could be a reasonable summer," Chief Financial Officer Neil Sorahan said.
In the winter, "we hope to be getting back to some kind of normality," he added.
COVID-19 restrictions slashed Ryanair passenger numbers by 78% in the last three months of the year, the third quarter of its financial calendar, pushing it to a quarterly loss of 306 million euros ($371.06 million). That compares with a loss of 300 million euro forecast in a company poll of analysts.
Ryanair's 82% fall in revenue in the quarter compared with falls of 88% at rival easyJet and 77% at Wizz, which both reported results last week.
Ryanair is widely seen as one of the best-placed airlines in the world to weather the COVID-19 crisis due to its large cash balance and lack of long-haul and business-class.
It said it had cash on hand of 3.5 billion euros at the end of December, compared with 4.5 billion at the end of September.