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Ryanair cuts flights and blames government COVID-19 'mismanagement'

Oscar Williams-Grut
·Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
·2-min read
Passengers in protective face masks are seen waiting for departure of Ryanair flight at Krakow Balice Airport as the airline industry is trying to recover after global Coronavirus lockdown cut most of international passenger flights - Krakow, Poland on September 14, 2020. (Photo by Dominika Zarzycka/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Passengers in protective face masks are seen waiting for departure of Ryanair flight at Krakow Balice Airport, Poland. Photo: Dominika Zarzycka/NurPhoto via Getty

Ryanair (RYA.L) is axing more flights in October, blaming European governments’ “mismanagement” of COVID-19.

The Irish budget airline said on Friday it would cancel 20% of flights next month in response to a slowdown in bookings. As a result, capacity will be 40% of where it was a year ago, compared with earlier plans for 50%.

Watch: Ryanair cuts flights and blames government COVID-19 'mismanagement'

“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,” a spokesperson for the airline said.

READ MORE: Travel and leisure stocks dive on second UK lockdown fears

It’s the second time in as many months Ryanair has been forced to cut flights. The airline reduced October capacity by 20% in mid-August, blaming “weakness in forward bookings due to COVID restrictions in a number of EU countries.”

Shares in Ryanair were down over 4% on Friday, amid a wider sell-off for travel stocks.

Ryanair shares dropped over 4% on the cancellation news. Photo: Yahoo Finance UK
Ryanair shares dropped over 4% on the cancellation news. Photo: Yahoo Finance UK

The capacity cut comes as COVID-19 cases continue to spike across much of Europe, including the UK. The rise in cases has led to harsher travel restrictions across much of the continent.

Reports emerged on Friday that the British government has been urged to consider a second nationwide lockdown.

Ryanair’s chief financial officer Neil Sorahan said in July that a COVID-19 second wave in the autumn was the company’s “biggest fear.”

READ MORE: Ryanair warns autumn second wave is its 'biggest fear'

Earlier this month the chief executive of easyJet (EZJ.L) said he was “frustrated” with the “unpredictable” quarantine measures being announced by the UK government. EasyJet has also been forced to cut back on flights.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said this week it could take at least three years for air travel to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. The IATA expects airlines to collectively lose $84bn ($65bn) globally this year.

“It is going to be a challenging period of time,” IATA’s Regional VP for the Americas Peter Cerda told Yahoo Finance’s On the Move.