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Ryanair says slow EU vaccine rollout to hit passenger forecast

FILE PHOTO: Ryanair planes at Dublin Airport

DUBLIN (Reuters) -The European Union’s slow COVID-19 vaccine rollout will damage Ryanair’s prospects in the coming year, Europe’s biggest low-cost airline said on Wednesday, as it flagged a smaller than expected loss for its financial year just ended.

The Irish company said it now expected passenger traffic in the year to March 31, 2022, to be towards the lower end of its previously estimate of 80-120 million people.

“Easter travel restrictions/lockdowns and a delayed traffic recovery into the peak Summer 21 season, due to the slow rollout in the EU of COVID-19 vaccines, means that FY22 traffic is likely to be towards the lower end of our previously guided range,” it said in a statement.

Ryanair flew 27.5 million passengers in the last 12 months, down from 149 million passengers in the year to March 2020, before the pandemic had a significant impact.

The airline, one of the harshest critics of European politicians’ handling of the COVID-19 crisis, said that while it was too soon to make meaningful profit guidance for the new financial year, it expected to be “close to breakeven.”

Goodbody Stockbrokers said in a note it expected “some adjustment down” from its current 252 million euro ($299 million) profit forecast for the year to end-March 2022.

Ryanair, which is due to publish its annual results on May 17, said it expected to announce a net loss of 800-850 million euros compared with 850-950 million previously.

The airline had 3.15 billion euros of cash at the end of March, down from 3.5 billion at the end of December.

Its shares were unchanged at 16.95 euros at 0844 GMT.

($1 = 0.8426 euros)

(Reporting by Conor Humphries. Editing by Jason Neely and Mark Potter)

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