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Ryanair cuts one in three winter flights

Saleha Riaz
·2-min read
The airline said rules around air travel have caused bookings to “materially” weaken in November and December. Photo: AP Photo
The airline said rules around air travel have caused bookings to “materially” weaken in November and December. Photo: AP Photo

One of Europe’s largest budget airlines Ryanair (RYA.L) is slashing its winter flights by a third and will also temporarily shut down three bases.

In a statement, Ryanair said that it further reduced its winter schedule from 60% to 40%, blaming flight restrictions imposed by governments in Europe, as its boss warned of job cuts.

It will close bases in Cork, Shannon, and Toulouse for the winter period of November to March. Ryanair also announced significant base aircraft cuts in Belgium, Germany, Spain, Portugal and Vienna.

However, it said that it’s hoping to keep its planes 70% full to “minimise cash burn” and at least break even. It expects full year 2020 traffic to fall to approximately 38 million passengers.

It said this figure could be further revised downwards “if EU governments continue to mismanage air travel and impose more lockdowns this winter.”

Chart: Yahoo Finance UK
Chart: Yahoo Finance UK

Ryanair’s Group CEO Michael O’Leary said: “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 minimising job losses.”

However, he added the company will implement more unpaid leave and job sharing this winter in bases where it has agreed reduced working time and pay.

READ MORE: EasyJet set for first loss in history as CEO cries out for support

He admitted there will be more redundancies at a small number of cabin crew bases where the company has not secured an agreement on working time and pay cuts.

“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,” he added.

O’Leary also urged EU governments to “immediately, and fully, adopt the EU Commission’s Traffic Light System, which allows for safe air travel between EU states on a regional basis to continue (without defective travel restrictions) for those countries and regions of Europe, who are able to demonstrate that their Covid case rates are less than 50 per 100,000 population.”

The pandemic has hit the travel industry hard. Last week, the chief executive of easyJet (EZJ.L) renewed calls for government support for the airline industry, warning the sector faces “the most severe threat in its history.”