Budget airline Ryanair has reported a record after-tax loss of €815m (£703m) for the financial year to the end of March 2021 after the Covid-19 pandemic curtailed domestic and international travel.
Revenues declined by 81% to €1.64bn, in line with the drop in traffic which fell to just 27.5 million passengers from 148.6 million in the previous year.
But group CEO Michael O’Leary said the airline is seeing growing demand, suggesting that “recovery has already begun”.
Bookings have reached 1.5 million a week, from 500,000 a week in early April.
“The rate of bookings suggests there is a huge amount of confidence,” O’Leary told the BBC. “We are very optimistic for the next couple of months.”
He also said that, with most European populations likely to be vaccinated by September, the airline is anticipating a particularly strong recovery in October to March, the second half of its financial year.
Overall, passenger numbers for the current financial year are now expected to be towards the lower end of the previously forecast range of 80 to 120 million passengers.
The airline said it was “impossible to provide meaningful FY22 guidance at this time” but it is hoping to break even.