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: Slow EU vaccine rollout and Easter travel restrictions blamed for low Ryanair passenger numbers

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Ryanair
RYA,
+0.92%

said on Wednesday that it expects losses for the year to be slightly lower than first thought, but predicted it would carry fewer passengers over the next year because of Easter travel restrictions and the slow rollout of the European Union’s COVID-19 vaccination program.

The Irish budget carrier expects to report a net loss before exceptional items of between €800 million and €850 million ($949.9 million to $1.01 billion) for the year ending March 2021, slightly better than its previous guidance in February of between €850 million and €950 million for the period.

It now forecasts passenger numbers in the year ending March 2022 toward the lower end of a previously guided range of between 80 million and 120 million passengers.


“Easter travel restrictions/lockdowns and a delayed traffic recovery into the peak S.21 season, due to the slow rollout in the EU of COVID-19 vaccines, means that FY22 traffic is likely to be towards the lower end of our previously guided range of 80m to 120m passengers. “


— Ryanair

“While it is not possible at this time to provide meaningful fiscal 2022 profit guidance, we do not share the recent optimism of certain analysts as we believe that the outcome for fiscal 2022 is currently close to break-even,” Ryanair said in a statement on Wednesday.

Shares in Ryanair, which have risen 3.16% in the year to date, were up 1.10% in early London trading on Wednesday.

The news also lifted shares in rival carrier easyJet
EZJ,
+0.89%
,
which saw its shares rise by 1.06%, while British Airways owner International Airlines Group
IAG,
+1.56%

saw its stock rise 1.42%.

Airlines such as Ryanair
RYAAY,
-0.77%

have introduced new summer routes in an effort to attract holidaymakers to travel when coronavirus restrictions ease. In March, Ryanair announced 26 new destinations in Greece, Portugal and Spain and plans to operate a total of 2,000 weekly flights on 400 summer routes.

Read: Amid vaccine hurdles, EU battles to save summer vacations with COVID travel pass

Under Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s four-step road map to ease the U.K. out of its third lockdown, foreign holidays are banned until May 17 at the earliest.

However, Johnson on Monday warned people not to book summer holidays yet, saying it was too soon for the government to commit to allowing holidays abroad because of the risk of importing more contagious variants of coronavirus, which are behind a surge of infections sweeping Europe.

Read: United, Alaska stocks get upgrade on ‘clear path to reopening’ for air travel industry

When the ban on nonessential foreign travel is lifted, it will be replaced by a risk-based, three-tier traffic light system for categorizing countries for international travel to and from England.

 “This new category will accommodate countries where we judge the risk to be lower, based for instance on vaccinations, infection rates, the prevalence of variants of concern, and their genomic sequencing capacity (or access to genomic sequencing),” the government said in a statement.

The government’s Global Travel Taskforce will publish its report, setting out more details on this system, later this week.

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