Ryanair expects air travel to be depressed for 2-3 years

European budget airline Ryanair says the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on its bottom line, with travel restrictions leading to a 99% drop in passengers in the first quarter compared with the same period last year

LONDON -- European budget airline Ryanair said Monday that the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on its earnings, with lockdown restrictions leading to a 99% drop in passengers in the first quarter, and warned travel is likely to remain subdued for years.

The airline, which grew in recent years to become the region's busiest carrier, says the quarter was the “most challenging’’ in its history, with a loss of 185 million euros ($216 million). It described a second wave of COVID-19 as its “biggest fear.”

Travel restrictions led to a collapse in the number of travellers, with 500,000 passengers in the first quarter compared with 41.9 million in the same period last year.

The low-cost carrier expects air travel to be depressed in Europe for the next two to three years.