Ryanair Holdings expects to report pre-exceptional after tax profit of between €950 million and €1 billion for the 12 months to March 31.

The figure is at the lower end of its previously announced guidance range due to the response of EU governments to the spread of coronavirus.

This has led to widespread flight bans and travel restrictions which have closed Europe’s skies to all but a tiny number of rescue and medical flights since mid-March.

Full-year carryings rose just 4% to 149 million, compared to the 154 million figure that Ryanair was on track to achieve, even as late as early March.

March traffic fell by 48% from 10.9 million passengers in 2019 to 5.7 million this year.

Ryanair is currently operating less than 20 flights a day – 99% less than its pre-Covid 19 daily schedule of over 2,500 flights.

The airline expects its fleet to remain largely grounded for at least April and May.

“We therefore expect to record ineffectiveness on our 2021 fuel hedges as an exceptional item in our 2020 results,” the budget carrier warned.

“We currently estimate that this will amount to an exceptional charge of approximately €300 million.”

The group said it was not possible to given profits guidance for the 2020-21 financial year due to “continued uncertainty on the impact and duration of the Covid-19 pandemic”.

Ryanair had year-end cash equivalents of €3.8 billion with 327 or 77% of the owned fleet “unencumbered” and debt free.

“The Ryanair Group has already implemented a series of measures to cut operating costs, improve liquidity and cash flows,” a statement to the London stock exchange said.

“These include aircraft groundings, deferring capital expenditure, suspending share buybacks, freezing recruitment and discretionary spending, and cutting all pay including senior management by 50% with immediate effect for April and May.

“We are engaging with our people and our unions across all EU countries to agree payroll support mechanisms as they are put in place by EU governments,” Ryanair added.

“We are grateful to many EU governments for their foresight and speed of response in recognising that the EU airlines are one of the most exposed industries to the Covid-19 pandemic and that our flights have been grounded by necessary government restrictions to combat the spread of Covid-19.

“However, we equally support the EU Commission’s position that any such government supports must comply with all EU state aid and competition rules.

“The Ryanair Group of Airlines will continue to focus on delivering cost savings, protecting jobs, working with EU governments to support rescue and medical flights, and preparing for the return to normal service when the Covid-19 crisis has passed, which we hope will be sooner rather than later.”

The group’s next market update is due on May 18 when annual financial results are released.