Ryanair plunged to the worst loss in its 35-year history, but struck an optimistic note today insisting that bookings are up and that summer can be saved.
The budget airline credited with reinventing air travel says a recovery has begun, with bookings up since April.
For the year to March, Ryanair clocked up a loss of e815 million (£702 million), with passenger numbers down 80% to 27.5 million.
While those figures are not a surprise, they do show the strife facing the aviation sector as it tries to fight back from Covid.
Chief executive Michael O’Leary said: “"The rate of bookings suggests there is a huge amount of confidence. We are very optimistic for the next couple of months."
That optimism is shown in the increase in orders for new B7373-8200 “Gamechanger” planes to 210, from 135. The planes have more seats and use less fuel.
Ryanair thinks it should break even, or close to it, this year, but that depends on vaccine rollout across Europe – and consumer confidence.
Bookings are up threefold to 1.5 million a week compared to early April.
"For vaccinated Britons going to the beaches of Portugal, Spain and Greece, I think there is very little risk. Everybody is right to be cautious, but I think everybody can take their holiday in Europe with a high degree of confidence."
Daniel Roeska at Bernstein said: “Much rests on the relaxation of travel restrictions by peak summer to revive earnings.”
Travellers can now visit 12 countries on the government’s green list, including Portugal and Israel, without isolating on their return.
But the vast majority of tourist destinations remain on the amber and red lists, meaning travellers must quarantine when they get back.