Ryanair sees ‘strong return’ of beach holidays, entry of Boeing 737 Max this summer

Feb 1, 2021

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Amid losses, Ryanair is planning to return an expanded European operation this summer.

On Monday, the low-cost carrier announced that it lost $371 million in the three months to Dec. 31. Ryanair transported just 1.9 million passengers in December 2020 — an 83% drop compared to the same month the year prior.

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But the airline is looking to the pent-up demand of travelers looking to get away later in 2021. While Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary called Easter travel a “write off,” the airline is confident that demand will return in summer 2021.

“We expect to see a very strong return of British families traveling to the beaches of Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece in relative safety this summer,” O’Leary said.

O’Leary said that he expects the traffic recovery to accelerate between July and September for those looking to capitalize on summer holidays, before returning to 70%-90% reduced operating schedules between October and March 2022.

“We are hopeful that moving into peak summer, we’re going to see the lockdowns relaxing,” Ryanair Chief Financial Officer Neil Sorahan said. “There is huge pent-up demand out there. I think it could be a reasonable summer.”

In order to help meet the expected demand of the summer season, Ryanair is turning to the Boeing 737 Max — an aircraft that it calls a “gamechanger.” Ryanair expects to have taken delivery of at least 24 of the 210 Boeing 737 Max aircraft it has on an order by the peak summer season.

Related: Ryanair boosts Boeing with new order for ‘gamechanger’ Boeing 737 MAX

The beleaguered aircraft was recertified to enter service in Europe and the U.K. last week. The move followed two deadly crashes that resulted in the entire worldwide fleet being grounded in 2019.

By focussing on markets in Europe where competitors have cut back or exited, Ryanair is hoping to take advantage of the pent-up demand. But, the airline has put some pressure on the EU to boost its vaccination rollout, which will allow those European expansion plans to come to fruition.

“We take some comfort from the success of the U.K. vaccine program, which is on target to vaccinate almost 50% of the U.K. population (30 million) by the end of March,” the airline said. “The EU now needs to step up the slow pace of its rollout program to match the U.K.’s performance.”

The airline is expecting to fly between 26 million and 30 million passengers in the full-year until end of March. That, compared with a total of 149 million in the previous financial year.

Last month, EasyJet said that it had seen a 250% surge in summer bookings compared to the same period last year.

Featured photo by Michal Fludra/NurPhoto via Getty Images.

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