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Ryanair slumps to £270m loss as it demands EU speed up vaccine rollout

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Tom Belger
·Finance and policy reporter
·2 min read
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FILE - In this file photo dated Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018, Ryanair aircraft stand at the airport in Weeze, Germany.  Europe’s busiest airline, budget carrier Ryanair, said in a statement Wednesday Dec. 4, 2019, it is closing bases at Nuremberg in Germany, and Stockholm in Sweden, because of delays to deliveries of Boeing 737 Max airplanes, which have been grounded for months over security concerns. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, FILE)
Ryanair slumped to heavy third-quarter losses. Photo: AP Photo/Martin Meissner.

Ryanair (RYA.L) shares slipped on Monday as it slumped to a €306m (£270m, $371m) third-quarter loss.

The budget airline said COVID-19 “continues to wreak havoc,” with passenger numbers crashing by 78% year-on-year to eight million in the final three months of last year.

Profits in the same period a year earlier had come in at €88m.

It said in its latest results it took “some comfort” from the speed of the UK’s vaccine rollout, but urged the EU to “step up the slow pace of its rollout programme to match the UK’s performance.”

READ MORE: EasyJet and Wizz Air revenues slide

It comes amid continued tensions between the EU and the UK over AstraZeneca (AZN.L)’s vaccine, with Brussels pressing hard for a share of supplies manufactured in Britain.

EasyJet also blamed European governments for a severe downturn in Christmas and New Year traffic, with bans on UK travel imposed “at short notice” over a new COVID-19 variant.

Even with a reduced schedule of flights, Ryanair planes were at only 70% of capacity in the last three months of 2020, according to the company.

The airline now expects lockdown restrictions and requirements for tests to reduce flight schedules and traffic until Easter.

Full-year traffic is expected to come in at between 26 and 30 million passengers, less than the third quarter alone in 2019. It marks a downgrade on previous forecasts of up to 35 million passengers.

READ MORE: UK manufacturers call on government to tackle Brexit border issues

Losses for the whole year are expected to be between €850m and €950m (£838m, $1.15bn) even before exceptional items.

The year “will continue to be the most challenging year in Ryanair's 35 year history,” it said.

Ryanair’s latest update to shareholders also saw the company confirm:

  • It will receive up to 24 new Boeing MAX planes as the jets return to the air.

  • It will repay over €1.5bn in maturing debt over the next six months, after raising cash through new shares and eurobonds.

  • It has extended deal for Stansted slots to 2028, and secured seven further slots previously held by EasyJet.

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