Ryanair says that its full year net loss to the end of March 2022 is expected to be higher than previously forecast, as the Omicron Covid-19 variant and subsequent travel restrictions continue to impact demand.

The group has lowered its full year guidance from a net loss range of between €100 million to €200 million, to a new range of €250 million to €450 million.

Ryanair said that the Omicron Covid variant and recent government travel restrictions across Europe had “notably weakened close-in Christmas and New Year bookings”, causing the carrier to cut its planned January 2022 schedule capacity by 33 per cent.

Ryanair had expected to carry between 10 and 11 million customers in December, but has now reduced this forecast to 9 to 9.5 million.

The airline added that “In light of the current uncertainty about the Omicron variant, and intra Europe travel restrictions, no schedule cutbacks have yet been decided for February or March 2022”.

“These schedules will be revisited in January as more scientific information becomes available on the Omicron variant, its impact on hospitalisations, European population and/or travel restrictions in February or March,” Ryanair added.

In September the group announced plans for accelerated post-Covid growth, which it expects to result in 225 million annual passengers by March 2026.

The figure is 25 million more than its previous forecast of 200 passengers per year by the same date, with the group pointing to new opportunities at primary and secondary airports “all over Europe, particularly where legacy carriers have failed or reduced fleet sizes as a result of Covid and State Aid”.

Ryanair targets 225 million passengers per year by 2026