Ryanair Group has reported an 88% drop in passenger figures for January.

The airline said it carried a total of 1.3 million passengers last month, down from 10.8 million the same time last year. 

It said it operated about 15% of its normal January schedule with a 69% load factor.

Ryanair also today dismissed what it called "false claims" made by the Irish Travel Agents Association about travel agent refunds. 

In a statement, the airline said it has not dealt with travel agents for over 20 years and does not permit travel agents or other unauthorised third parties to make bookings on Ryanair.com. It added that any such travel agent bookings are in breach of its terms and conditions. 

It said that all customers who booked directly with Ryanair and who have requested a refund have received it.

"There is no backlog of consumer refunds in Ryanair," it added.

But it said that a small number of passengers who booked through travel agents have not and will not receive refunds unless they request their refund by filling in the Customer Verification Form on the Ryanair website.

Ryanair said it will route any refund directly to the consumer rather than via the travel agents. 

Ryanair said yesterday that it expects a record loss of close to €1 billion in the year to March 31 before what group chief executive Michael O'Leary says will be a "dramatic recovery" later in the year thanks to Covid-19 vaccination programmes.  

The low-cost airline, Europe's largest, forecast a loss between €850-950m in its current financial year - about five times larger than its previous record loss in 2009. 

But Michael O'Leary told an investor call that bookings would "snap back very strongly" once confidence grows in the rollout of vaccines across the European Union.