Ryanair reported a third-quarter net loss of €96m, saying Omicron weakened Christmas and New Year trade.
The airline said the three months to 31 December 2021 started strongly, but travel restrictions in early December in response to the Omicron variant ‘significantly damaged close-in Christmas and New Year bookings’.
Average fares were €25, down 24% on the same quarter pre-COVID.
The €96m loss is a significant improvement on the previous year, when it recorded a 2020 Q3 loss of €321m.
Ryanair said: “The sudden emergence of the Omicron variant (late Nov), and the media hysteria it generated in December, forced many European governments to reimpose travel restrictions in the run up to Christmas, which significantly weakened peak (close-in) Christmas and New Year bookings and fares.”
Traffic slowed to 9.5m, well behind the expected target of 11m guests. January capacity was cut by 33% on 22 December, which lowered the January traffic target from 10m to between 6m-7m customers.
Ryanair warned the outlook is ‘hugely uncertain’.
“While recent bookings have improved, following easing of travel restrictions, the booking curve remains very late and close-in, so Q4 traffic requires significant price stimulation at lower prices to quickly recover load factors which suffered steep declines due to the Omicron collapse in bookings over the Christmas/New Year period,” the airline said.
It warns shareholders ‘to expect further COVID disruptions before we here in Europe and the rest of the world can finally declare that the COVID crisis is behind us’.