Ryanair Cuts Winter Flights Due to Low Demand

Irish airlines

Ryanair plans to cut its winter flights more than one in three flights because of low demand. It is due to the travel restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic in all of Europe.

However, the airline said it will try to operate up to 65 percent of its route network between November and March. Moreover, it will close bases in Cork and Shannon in Ireland and Toulouse in France during the five-month period.

The routes that the airline will be operating, however, it will be serving with a lower frequency of flights than normal.

However, Ryanair will be operating at just 40 percent capacity in winter of what it was 12 months earlier. Previously the airline planned to operate at 60 percent of its winter capacity.

It described demand for flights as “heavily curtailed” to and from the UK, Ireland, Austria, Belgium, Portugal, and much of central Europe.

However, this has caused forward bookings to weaken “slightly” for travel this month. And “materially” for flights in November and December.

The firm said it expects to fill 70% of seats on its planes.

Regretting the Winter Cuts

Group chief executive Michael O’Leary said, “While we deeply regret these winter schedule cuts. They have been forced upon us by government mismanagement of EU air travel.”

“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 minimizing 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.”

“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.”

“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.”

Future Concerns 

O’Leary showed concerns that in the UK hundreds of thousands of travel and tourism jobs are at risk. However, in the coming months if the government does not offer proper support to workers and relaxes travel restrictions many workers will lose their jobs.

The CEO was speaking hours ahead of the announcement of new UK Covid support measures. And weeks ahead of the launch of a European Union plan to coordinate travel restrictions in Europe.

Failure to join the EU plan and provide a proper furlough scheme to pay those whose work has dried up due to the pandemic. This “will mean literally hundreds of thousands of job losses this winter,” O’Leary said in an interview.

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