Ryanair, Europe’s biggest discount airline, posted a €355 million ($369.06 million) loss for the pandemic-hit 12 months to end of March, but said it was impossible to accurately forecast anything beyond hoping for a return to "reasonable profitability" this year.
That compares with a net loss of €1.0 billion for the Irish no-frills carrier in its previous financial year. Analysts had expected a figure of €372 million, on average. Revenue almost tripled to €4.8 billion.
The Irish carrier reiterated a target of carrying 165 million passengers in the new fiscal year.
Ryanair continues to expect a strong summer as the removal of travel curbs encourages people to fly again. The Dublin-based company said it’s “cautiously optimistic” that peak-season fares will be somewhat ahead of 2019 levels, though it’s still having to use price cuts to stimulate the market this quarter.
"This recovery, however, remains fragile" after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, chief executive Michael O'Leary said in a statement.
"Given the continuing risk of adverse news flows on" Ukraine and Covid, "it is impractical ― if not impossible — to provide a sensible or accurate profit guidance range at this time", he added.
Mr O’Leary said getting through airports will be “challenging” this summer.
He said there are “pinch-points” at airports such as Heathrow and Manchester, where he said “too many people” have been sacked.
Mr O’Leary told the BBC: “We would hope to see those pinch-points eliminated by the end of June in time for the peak summer period.
“But there’s no doubt getting through airports this summer is going to be challenging and we’re encouraging all of our customers to show up earlier to allow more time to get through airport security, particularly in Manchester.”
He warned flight prices will be higher this summer due to the high demand for European holiday destinations.
Ryanair is operating more flights than any other European airline, figures compiled by air traffic regulator Eurocontrol show.
It forecast passenger traffic of 165 million in its current year, compared to a pre-pandemic level of 149 million and up from 97 million a year ago.
The airline carried more than 97 million passengers last year compared to 27.5 million during the previous 12 months period when the pandemic struck.
Group revenue almost tripled to 4.8 billion euros last year as travel demand recovered.
Ryanair shares were trading at €13.62 at Friday's close, down 25 per cent in three months, in part due to a surge in fuel prices and concerns about the impact of inflation on European demand.