Ryanair posts smaller than expected loss, wary of COVID second wave

Men wearing protective face masks wait in line at Charleroi international airport, Brussels, Belgium. EPA-EFE/ARIS OIKONOMOU

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Ryanair, Europe’s largest low-cost airline, reported a narrower than expected loss in its fiscal first quarter on Monday and said it was impossible to say whether it might turn an annual profit due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Irish airline posted an after-tax loss of 185 million euros ($216.54 million) for the three months to June 30, its first-ever loss in the quarter, but less than the 232 million euros forecast in a company poll of analysts.

“Given the current uncertainty, Ryanair cannot provide any FY21 profit after tax guidance at this time,” Group Chief Executive Michael O’Leary said in a statement, referring to its financial year which ends on March 31, 2021.

“A second wave of COVID-19 cases across Europe in late autumn (when the annual flu season commences) is our biggest fear right now,” he added.

The Irish low-cost carrier said the quarter, in which passenger numbers were down by around 99%, was “the most challenging in Ryanair’s 35-year history”.

Revenue was down 95% to 125 million euros while costs were down by 85%, it said.

But it said its cash burn had effectively ended, with its cash balance up to 3.9 billion euros at the end of June from 3.8 billion at the end of March.

At the end of the quarter, Ryanair moved from a skeleton service to flying around 40% of its usual schedule.

It hopes to fly 60% of its normal schedule in August and 70% in September and expects to post a smaller loss in the current quarter.

The airline’s planes should be around 70% full in July and August, O’Leary said in a pre-recorded video presentation.

Ryanair hopes to accept delivery of its first 737 MAX-200 from Boeing Co before the end of 2020 and potentially up to 40 MAXs ahead of summer 2021, he added.

Its shares closed on Friday at 10.91 euros, down 25% since the start of the year. That is worse than Hungarian budget rival Wizz, down just 11%, but far better than most other European carriers, including Britain’s easyJet, down 59%.

s2.reutersmedia.net

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