Ryanair cancels one third of flights in Winter schedule

15.10.2020 at 20:33

Travel news

Ryanair is cutting the number of its winter flights by a third because of Covid air travel restrictions across the EU and has warned of further job losses as passenger numbers plummet.

The airline previously cut the number of flights in October to around 40% of normal levels, but is now extending the reduction through November to March, down from the 60% previously planned. It is still hoping to keep its planes 70% full, in order to break even and “minimise cash burn”.

“There will regrettably be more redundancies at those small number of cabin crew bases, where we have still not secured agreement on working time and pay cuts, which is the only alternative,” said Michael O’Leary, Ryanair’s chief executive.

“While we deeply regret these winter schedule cuts they have been forced upon us by government mismanagement of EU air travel.”

Ryanair, along with other European airlines and airports, had been lobbying for a harmonised approach to air travel during the pandemic, to ensure – at the least – more predictable and consistent rules on cross-border travel.

However, the European council agreed a recommendation only this week, issuing guidance on restrictions for member states that fell far below the aviation industry’s hopes.

Ryanair said it was “inevitable” that pilots and cabin crew would also have to take more unpaid leave and participate in job sharing this winter, adding that it was a better outcome than “mass job losses”.

The airline said it would maintain most of its winter route network, but offer fewer flights. It is already temporarily shutting bases this winter in Cork and Shannon in Ireland and in Toulouse, France.

It will now cut the number of flights from bases including those in Austria, Belgium, Germany, Portugal and Spain.

Ryanair has also cut its full-year traffic forecast to 38 million passengers, down from 50 million. Last year it had 149 million passengers.

“This guidance could be further revised downwards if EU governments continue to mismanage air travel and impose more lockdowns this winter,” the airline said.

“We continue to actively manage our cost base to be prepared for the inevitable rebound and recovery of short-haul air travel in Europe once an effective Covid-19 vaccine is developed.”

Ryanair shares fell almost 4% on news of the schedule cuts. EasyJet’s stock dropped by a similar amount.

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