RYANAIR has flagged expectations that passenger numbers will almost halve in the current financial year as a result of the impact of the coronavirus crisis.

However, shares in the budget airline rose more than 15 per cent as it signalled cost cutting plans for a “difficult” year ahead.

Analysts said the carrier had been on course for a good year but that that the effect of the pandemic that has grounded the majority of the world fleet would be significant.

It came as the company reported a 13 per cent increase in profits to €1 billion for the year ending March, but expects to deliver significant losses in the current quarter.

The discount airliner said it saw an increase in passengers for the full year but has so far operated less than 1% of its scheduled flights since the start of April.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Ryanair expects up to 3,000 jobs to be lost

It also told investors that it has sufficient funds to “weather Covid-19 and emerge stronger when the crisis passes”.

Ryanair is currently in the midst of consultations over base closures, up to 3,000 job cuts - mainly affecting pilots and cabin crew - and pay cuts as it looks to keep its costs low in the face of coronavirus.

The Irish carrier said it nevertheless expects to post a loss of more than €200m for the quarter to the end of June.

It said it expects this to be followed a smaller loss in the second quarter amid a “substantial decline in traffic and pricing” due to the coronavirus groundings.

It comes after profits jumped in the previous full year, as it reported a 10% increase in revenues to €8.4bn.

Ryanair said it expects passenger numbers for the current year to be “less than 80 million” after reducing its target of 100 million given last week, and significantly lower than its original target of 154 million.

In a statement, Ryanair said: “Full year 2021 will be difficult for the Ryanair Group as its airlines work hard to return to scheduled flying following the Covid-19 crisis.

“As we look beyond the next year, there will be significant opportunities for Ryanair’s low cost, growth model as competitors shrink, fail or are acquired by government bailed out carriers.”

READ MORE: Ryanair faces 'difficult' year ahead

The carrier did not provide details of numbers of Scottish workers on furlough or who could be facing redundancy.

Plans to impose a 14-day quarantine on international travellers arriving in the UK were described as “unimplementable”, by the chief executive of Ryanair Michael O’Leary.

Ryanair announced last week that it will operate nearly 1,000 flights per day from July 1 subject to European countries lifting flight restrictions and “effective public health measures” being put in place at airports.

Ministers have said international travellers will be asked to quarantine for 14 days when they enter the UK, either in accommodation of their choice or provided by the Government if there are no other options. An implementation date has not yet been announced.

The Prime Minister’s spokesman also told a Westminster briefing on Monday afternoon that the quarantine would be reviewed every three weeks.

For the full year ending Ryanair’s revenue rose 10% to €8.5bn.

William Ryder, Equity Analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “Ryanair had a reasonably good year, although the very end was impacted by Covid-19. Costs rose faster than we would have liked, but were well outstripped by revenue growth.

"Notably, staff costs increased 12%, which management is negotiating with unions to bring down through redundancies. Now growth is going to be in short supply cost discipline is going to be especially important.”

He said that Ryanair has “done a good job reining in its cash expenses during the lockdown, but €60m a week is still a lot”.