Budget carrier Ryanair said it suffered the “most challenging” quarter in its 35-year history as it reported a loss of £168 million.
The low-cost airline was forced to ground its fleet as coronavirus decimated timetables with travel bans and lockdowns introduced worldwide.
It said a second wave of the disease was now its “biggest fear” as the government announced that travellers from Spain must enter 14-days quarantine when returning to the UK.
Lockdown restrictions saw the company carry 500,000 passengers in the first quarter compared with 41.9 million in the same period last year, while revenue collapsed from £2.1 billion to £113 million.
The company said: “The past quarter was the most challenging in Ryanair’s 35-year history.
“Covid-19 grounded the group’s fleet for almost four months (from mid-March to end June) as EU governments imposed flight or travel bans and widespread population lockdowns.
“During this time, group airlines repatriated customers and operated rescue flights for different EU governments, as well as flying a series of medical emergency/PPE flights across Europe.”
Flights were resumed on July 1, and the company said it aimed to operate around 40 per cent of its normal July schedule, increasing to 60 per cent in August and 70 per cent in September.
Ryanair Holdings plc said it expected air travel to be depressed in Europe for the next two to three years, adding: “This will create opportunities for Ryanair to grow its network, and expand its fleet, to take advantage of lower airport and aircraft cost opportunities that will inevitably arise.”
It added: “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.
“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.
“It is vital that European economies begin the process of recovery this summer to minimise the damage arising from the Covid-19 pandemic and this recovery can only be led by intra-EU air travel which is the engine of EU growth and economic activity.”