Ryanair passenger numbers fall 99.6% in April

Oscar Williams-Grut
Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary. Ryanair passenger numbers fell 99.6% in April. (Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP via Getty Images)

Budget European airlines Ryanair (RYA.L) and Wizz Air (WIZZ.L) saw huge falls in passenger numbers last month as COVID-19 lockdowns devastated the travel industry.

Ryanair said on Tuesday its passenger numbers fell 99.6% in April. The Dublin-based carrier flew just 40,000 passengers across 600 flights. Ryanair had originally planned to run over 75,000 flights in April and last year carried over 13 million passengers in the same month.

Ryanair said it expects “minimal traffic” to continue through May and June due to continuing travel bans and restrictions across the EU.

Wizz Air said separately its passenger numbers were down 97.6% in April. It flew just 3% of planned flights.

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Faced with collapsing consumer demand, Budapest-headquartered Wizz Air has sought to pivot some of its business towards supporting pandemic-fighting efforts. The company said it had flown 71 cargo flights of medical equipment and 28 rescue flights since the crisis began.

Ryanair and Wizz Air’s passenger figures underline the severe stress placed on the travel industry by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has all but ended international travel across large parts of the world.

Ryanair warned last week it expects to lose €100m ($109m, £87m) in the first quarter of 2020 alone and said it was cutting up to 3,000 jobs in response to the slowdown. Wizz Air announced 1,000 job cuts last month.

Rival airlines are also struggling. IAG (IAG.L), which owns British Airways, has announced large scale redundancies, while billionaire Richard Branson has been pleading with the government to give state support to Virgin Atlantic.

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The International Air Transport Association (IATA) last month estimated European airlines had missed out on $89bn-worth of ticket bookings so far this year and warned 6.7 million jobs could be at risk across the European aviation sector.

Shares in Ryanair were up 2.1% on Tuesday, while Wizz Air was 0.2% higher.