Low cost airline Ryanair is cutting flights and passenger forecasts and says ‘vaccinations rather than lockdowns’ are the way out of the COVID-19 crisis. Tony McDonough reports
Low-cost airline Ryanair has slashed its annual passengers forecasts and cut services as countries across Europe continue to impose restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ryanair, which in normal times operates more than 30 routes out of Liverpool John Lennon Airport, had originally planned to carry 156m passengers in the year to March 2021. But once COVID-19 hit last March that target fell rapidly.
Late last year the carrier said the number was expected to be “below” 35m. This has now been revised down to between 26m and 30m. COVID restriction and lockdowns in the UK, Ireland and other European countries means Ryanair will not expect to carry much more than 500,000 passengers in each month of February and March.
Consequently, Ryanair will significantly cut its flight schedules from Thursday, January 21, which will result in few, if any, flights being operated to or from Ireland or the UK until lockdowns and restrictions are lifted.
The company says the traffic reduction is not expected to have much affect on it expected net loss as many of the flights are loss-making at this time of year. Many airlines traditionally run at a loss during the winter period.
All customers affected by these further flight cancellations and further travel restrictions will receive emails advising them of their entitlements of free moves and/or refunds.
Ryanair branded the new lockdowns “draconian” and it called on the Irish and UK Governments to accelerate the pace of vaccine rollouts. A spokesperson said: “The World Health Organisation have previously confirmed that Governments should do everything possible to avoid brutal lockdowns, because lockdowns ‘do not get rid of the virus’.
“Ireland’s COVID-19 travel restrictions are already the most stringent in Europe, and so these new flight restrictions are inexplicable and ineffective when Ireland continues to operate an open border between the Republic and the North of Ireland.
“Since Ireland’s third lockdown will not get rid of the Covid virus, there is an onus on the Irish Government to accelerate the rollout of vaccines… Vaccinations rather than lockdowns is the way out of this COVID-19 crisis.”