Ryanair slashes winter flights on virus restrictions

By: AFP      Published: 05:46 PM, 15 Oct, 2020
Ryanair slashes winter flights on virus restrictions

Ryanair said Thursday that it will slash more flights this winter and temporarily shut bases in Cork and Shannon in Ireland, and Toulouse in France, due to coronavirus travel restrictions.

The Irish no-frills airline said it will slash its November-March capacity from 60 percent to 40 percent of the prior year, having already announced in September that it was cutting October flights to the same level.

The carrier's remaining routes will see fewer flights than normal over winter. Global air travel demand, which was decimated by the eruption of the Covid-19 pandemic, is now reeling once again from rebounding virus infections and renewed global moves to try and stop the spread of the deadly disease.

"Due to increased flight restrictions imposed by EU governments, air travel to/from much of central Europe, the UK, Ireland, Austria, Belgium and Portugal has been heavily curtailed," Ryanair said.

"This has caused forward bookings to weaken slightly in October, but materially in November and December. In light of these weaker bookings... Ryanair has today further reduced its winter schedule (November-March) taking capacity down from 60 percent to 40 percent of the prior year.

"Ryanair expects to maintain up to 65 percent of its winter route network, but with reduced frequencies. In addition to the winter closure of bases in Cork, Shannon, and Toulouse, Ryanair has announced significant base aircraft cuts in Belgium, Germany, Spain, Portugal and Vienna."

The Dublin-based carrier also slashed its annual forecast for passenger traffic to 38 million for the group's fiscal year to March. That compared with its prior guidance of 50 million.

Chief executive Michael O'Leary lashed out at government travel restrictions, adding that the group was focused on minimising job losses.

"While we deeply regret these winter schedule cuts, they have been forced upon us by government mismanagement of EU air travel," O'Leary said. "Our focus continues to be on maintaining as large a schedule as we can sensibly operate to keep our aircraft, our pilots and our cabin crew current and employed while minimising job losses.

"It is inevitable, given the scale of these cutbacks, that we will be implementing more unpaid leave and job sharing this winter in those bases where we have agreed reduced working time and pay, but this is a better short-term outcome than mass job losses."

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