Low-cost carrier Ryanair has estimated the loss for the year that ended on 31 March between 350 and 400 million euros. In January, the airline was expecting a loss of between 250 and 450 million euros, but Chief Executive Officer Michael O’Leary narrowed the interval last week, saying the figure would fall somewhere in the middle.
This is nevertheless an improvement from last year, Ryanair having suffered an after-tax loss of 815 million euros. Furthermore, O’Leary told Reuters that the airline is however optimistic, being “well placed for the coming year depending on traffic recovery and fares”.
1. Passenger numbers and occupancy rates
The past month was the first time Ryanair’s passenger numbers exceeded pre-pandemic levels. In March 2022 the airline flew 11.2 million people, an extraordinary recovery from the 0.5 million people flown during the lockdown last year and a promising growth from the 10.9 million people flown in March 2019. This is in spite of the suspension of activity in Ukraine, where it is one of the largest foreign operators, and despite the conflict having caused about 2,000 flight cancellations.
However, at 97 million passengers, the traffic of the entire year was still well-below the 149 million pre-Covid levels, although a nice improvement compared to the 27.5 million passengers in the previous year.
O’Leary forecasted in January an April occupancy rate of almost 90%. In line with his prediction, ahead of what he has called “the critical Easter holiday period”, the amount of filled available seats was up to 87% in March. Rival low-cost airline Wizz Air registered a load factor of 86% in March, with a yearly passenger number of just 27 million. Analyst Alex Irving said these occupancy figures are “particularly encouraging”, especially regarding the effect of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
2. Next year predictions and fuel hedges
O’Leary said the airline is targeting at least 1 billion euros net income for the next fiscal year, based on hedges for the majority of the needed fuel and increasing demand for travel with the Covid-19 pandemic slowly coming to an end.
Ryanair announced they have hedged 80% of the needed fuel for the 2023 fiscal year, with about 65% at $630 per metric tonne and the remaining 15% caped at $775 per metric tonne. Furthermore, around 10% of the fuel requirements for the first half of 2024 have been hedged at $760 per metric tonne.