Ryanair has improved its long-term outlook even as the low-cost carrier continues to be hit by short-term disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Releasing the airline said it now expected to carry 225 million guests annually by 2026, up from a previous expectation of 200 million each year results for the third quarter,.
However, the Omicron variant of Covid-19 slowed the recovery in the past three months.
Ryanair reported losses of €96 million for the three months to the end of December, though this was an improvement on losses of €321 million in the same period in 2020.
The airline carried 31 million passengers over the period, up from eight million in the December quarter of 2020.
Ryanair chief executive, Michael O’Leary, said: “The sudden emergence of the Omicron variant in late November, and the media hysteria it generated in December, forced many European government to reimpose travel restrictions in the run-up to Christmas, which significantly weakened peak Christmas and New Year bookings and fares.
“As a result, December traffic slowed to just 9.5 million, with a lower 81 per cent load factor, well behind the expected target of 11 million guests.”
He added: “We hope that the rollout of booster vaccines across Europe in recent weeks, and growing evidence that Omicron is less virulent than other variants, will enable EU governments to remove travel restrictions and restore consumer confidence in inter EU air travel well in advance of Easter and peak summer 2022.”