Ryanair cuts capacity again after ‘government mismanagement of COVID travel policies’

Ryanair has blamed European governments for “continuous changes” in travel restrictions, as it announces a 20% cut in October capacity.

It follows a another 20% cut announced last month, meaning the airline expects October capacity to fall from 50% to 40% of the levels seen at the same time last year, before the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

But it also said it expected flights to be more than 70% full under the reduced schedule.

Ryanair blamed “damage caused to forward bookings by continuous changes in EU government travel restrictions and policies, many of which are introduced at short notice, which undermine consumers’ willingness to make forward bookings”.

The Irish airline, which resumed flights in July after the lockdown, singled out Ireland, blaming the government for maintaining “excessive and defective travel restrictions”.

But many countries in the EU, along with the UK, have brought in 14-day quarantine requirements for travellers returning from certain places, a move that has attracted criticism from Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary among others.

The UK government has been criticised for bringing in travel restrictions with little notice, leaving many travellers reluctant to book due to the uncertainty.

Speaking about October’s capacity cut, a Ryanair spokesperson said the airline was “disappointed” but “as customer confidence is damaged by government mismanagement of COVID travel policies, many Ryanair customers are unable to travel for business or urgent family reasons without being subjected to defective 14-day quarantines”.

“While it is too early yet to make final decisions on our winter schedule (from November to March), if current trends and EU governments’ mismanagement of the return of air travel and normal economic activity continue, then similar capacity cuts may be required across the winter period.”

Turning again to Ireland, the spokesperson called on the country’s transport minister Eamon Ryan to “explain why NPHET (Ireland’s National Public Health Emergency Team) has kept Ireland locked up like North Korea since 1 July, while at the same time Italy and Germany removed all intra-EU travel restrictions and have delivered COVID case rates which are less than half the rate which NPHET has presided over in Ireland”.

“Intra-EU air travel is not the problem and these defective travel bans are not a solution,” they added.

Ryanair is among many airlines struggling to recover from the worst of the pandemic and in June it announced plans to close bases at London Stansted, Southend and Newcastle airports, resulting in 670 job losses.

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