Ryanair has reported a heavy third-quarter loss but cemented its relationship with Stansted by securing more slots.
The airline lost €306 million in the three months to 31 December, compared with a profit of €88 million in the same period in 2019. Passenger numbers fell 78% to just 8 million as Covid-19 hit the Christmas and new year peak.
Despite this, the airline remained upbeat about the prospects of a vaccine roll-out in the UK and has extended a partnership with Stansted until 2028, taking on easyJet’s former slots at the airport, which will allow Ryanair to base another seven aircraft there.
Ryanair said it expected to take advantage of the absence of Flybe, Germanwings, Level and others once the pandemic recedes.
“We expect intra-European capacity to be significantly reduced for the next few years, which will create growth opportunities for Ryanair to take advantage of recovery growth incentives as it takes delivery of 210 new [lower cost] Boeing 737s,” it said.
Ryanair increased its order for the Boeing 737 Max in December, committing to another 75 of the aircraft, which is due to receive final certification to fly again in Europe following two fatal accidents. Boeing now refers to the aircraft as the 737-8200.
“We are hopeful that the B737-8200 will be certified in the coming weeks,” Ryanair said. “This will enable the group to take delivery of up to 24 new aircraft before peak summer 2021.”
The airline said 2021 would “continue to be the most challenging year in Ryanair’s 35-year history”.
It predicted full-year passenger numbers of between 26 and 30 million and a full-year net loss pre-exceptional items of €850-€950 million.