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Ryanair's February Traffic Up, Coronavirus Spread Rampant

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Ryanair Holdings RYAAY posted impressive February traffic figures as air-travel demand was solid in the month. Traffic (including 0.5 million from its LaudaMotion unit in Austria) rose 9% year over year to 10.5 million.

However, load factor (% of seats filled with passengers) remained unaltered at 96%. This low-cost carrier’s passenger growth excluding traffic from LaudaMotion unit was 8% in the month. On a rolling annual basis, total traffic increased 9% to 153.8 million. This Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) Irish carrier operated more than 58,000 scheduled flights in February.

You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks (Strong Buy) here.

Coronavirus Woes May Weigh on Traffic Ahead

However, the carrier might not be able to replicate February’s stellar traffic results, at least in the near term. Notably, Ryanair will cut 25% of its Italian capacity in the Mar 17-Apr 8 time frame following reduced air-travel demand due to the rapid spread of the disease across many European countries.

As a result of this anticipated decline in bookings, traffic and load factor are likely be ‘lower than normal’ in March and April. In fact, Ryanair’s CEO Michael O'Leary warned of a "meaningful impact" of the virus on fourth-quarter fiscal 2020 (ending Mar 31, 2020) results.

Notably, Ryanair is not the only carrier to have trimmed its capacity due to the viral outbreak. U.S.-based carriers including American Airlines (AAL - Free Report) , United Airlines (UAL - Free Report) and the Latin American carrier LATAM Airlines LTM also suspended various flights in the wake of the coronavirus onslaught beyond its country of origin, China.

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