Ryanair has posted the biggest annual loss in the company’s 35-year history, after Covid travel restrictions and national lockdowns nearly wiped out traffic last year.

The airline swung to an €815m (£701m) loss in the 12 months to 31 March, compared with a €1bn profit a year earlier, after passenger numbers plunged 81% in what it said was its “most challenging” year to date.

But the airline struck a hopeful note, suggesting the vaccine rollout would help the company recover from an unprecedented year of disruption for the aviation industry. Ryanair said it could break even this year, in the absence of further disruption.