Europe’s largest budget airline Ryanair said on Thursday it has cut its full year traffic forecast for the fiscal year 2021 from below 35 million to between 26 million and 30 million, largely due to the recently announced COVID-19 lockdowns in Ireland and Britain.
The newly announced COVID-19 lockdowns and travel restrictions in the two countries in addition to a few other European Union countries this week will materially reduce its flight schedules and traffic forecast in the first quarter of this year, said the airline in a statement.
Ryanair said it now expects that its January traffic will fall below 1.25 million passengers and its February and March traffic numbers could drop to as little as half a million respectively.
In response, the airline said that it will significantly cut its flight schedules from Jan. 21, which will result in few flights being operated to and from Ireland and Britain from the end of January until the time when these travel restrictions are removed.
These flight cuts and further traffic reductions will not materially affect Ryanair’s net loss for the current fiscal year ending on March 31, 2021 as many of these flights would have been loss making, it said.
In the fiscal year 2020, Ryanair handled nearly 149 million passengers and made a profit of over one billion euros (about 1.22 billion U.S. dollars), according to the company’s annual report.
In the statement, the Ireland-headquartered airline also complained about the speed of the Irish government in rolling out the COVID-19 vaccination in the country, urging both the Irish and British governments to speed up the rollout.
“Vaccinations rather than lockdowns is the way out of this COVID-19 crisis,” it argued.
The Health Service Executive, a top state agency responsible for public health in Ireland, said Thursday that 15,314 first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in the country.
Earlier this week, Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin told local media that up to 135,000 people in Ireland will be vaccinated with two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of February, which roughly accounts for less than 3 percent of the country’s total population.
As the world is struggling to contain the pandemic, vaccination is underway in some countries with the already-authorized COVID-19 vaccines.
Meanwhile, 235 candidate vaccines are still being developed worldwide — 63 of them in clinical trials–in countries including Germany, China, Russia, Britain and the United States, according to information released by the World Health Organization on Wednesday. Enditem