© (Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)Ryanair planes
Ryanair, Europe's largest airline by passenger numbers, has reported record losses of ?815m (£702m) for its last financial year - devastated by the impact of the coronavirus crisis.
The company said its loss after tax performance over the 12 months to 31 March compared to profits of just over ?1bn in the previous year and was a consequence of passenger numbers slumping by 81% to just 27.5 million.
Ryanair, never shy of speaking its mind, said its fortunes were hit by the COVID-19 pandemic as "European govts (with little notice or co-ordination) imposed flight bans, travel restrictions and national lockdowns".
The airline said that while it saw a partial recovery last summer, "constantly changing" guidelines made operation difficult for its staff as the airline came under fire from passengers and consumer groups over refunds.
Ryanair said it had handled the situation "effectively" and managed to minimise job losses through negotiated pay cuts and by accessing government support schemes, including in the UK.
It pointed to a cash pile, at the end of the period, of more than ?3bn as evidence it was well placed to emerge from the crisis in a strong position.
Ryanair said bookings had started to pick up in April in anticipation of a reopening of the skies but said it did not see a recovery in pre-COVID demand until the summer of 2022.
While the company again hit out at "state aid" handed to some of its competitors during the crisis, saying it would prop them up and distort the market for years to come, it said the looming delivery of new planes would help alleviate the financial pressure.