Ryanair Holdings plc has reported a Q1 loss of €185 million.

    Over 99% of the airline group’s fleet was grounded from mid-March to the end June, with traffic falling from 42 million to 0.5 million in the first quarter of 2020.

    The past quarter was the most challenging in Ryanair’s 35-year history according to the carrier, with the airline group grounding its fleet for almost four months following EU governments imposing flight or travel bans and regional lockdowns.

    Ryanair Holdings is the parent company of Buzz, Lauda, Malta Air & Ryanair.

    Skeleton flights

    During the period, Ryanair Group airlines repatriated customers and operated rescue flights for different EU governments as well as flying a series of medical emergency and PPE flights across Europe.

    “Our aircraft and crews were kept current by operating skeleton schedules and currency flights which ensured that the group airlines were ready to efficiently resume flights when lockdown restrictions eased in most EU countries in late June/early July”, the company noted.

    The group carriers resumed flights at the beginning of July across the majority of its route network. The group expects to operate around 40% of its normal July schedule, rising to around 60% in August and around 70% in September.

    Challenges ahead

    Ryanair notes that its balance sheet is one of the strongest in the industry with over €3.9 billion in cash, and the carrier has moved quickly since mid-March to preserve cash, cut costs, cancel share buybacks and defer all non-essential capex.

    However, with the group expecting traffic in the financial year 2021 to fall by 60% and the industry facing other threats such as no-deal Brexit, many challenges remain.

    “It is impossible to predict how long the Covid-19 pandemic will persist, and a second wave of Covid-19 cases across Europe in late autumn (when the annual flu season commences) is our biggest fear right now”, the group commented.

    “Hopefully EU governments, by implementing effective track and tracing systems, and EU citizens by complying with recommended face masks, rigorous hand hygiene and other measures, will avoid the need for further lockdowns or restrictions on intra-EU flights.”