Ryanair Holdings PLC yesterday said that it would slash more flights this winter and temporarily shut bases in Cork and Shannon in Ireland, and Toulouse, France, due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.
The Irish no-frills airline said that it would slash its November to March capacity from 60 percent to 40 percent of the prior year, having already announced last month that it was cutting this month’s flight capacity to the same level.
The carrier’s remaining routes will see fewer flights than normal over the winter.
Global air travel demand, which was decimated by the eruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, is now reeling once again from rebounding virus infections and renewed global moves to try and stop the spread of the deadly disease.
“Due to increased flight restrictions imposed by EU governments, air travel to/from much of central Europe, the UK, Ireland, Austria, Belgium and Portugal has been heavily curtailed,” Ryanair said. “This has caused forward bookings to weaken slightly in October, but materially in November and December.”
“In light of these weaker bookings... Ryanair has today further reduced its winter schedule [November-March] taking capacity down from 60 percent to 40 percent of prior year,” it said.
“Ryanair expects to maintain up to 65 percent of its winter route network, but with reduced frequencies,” it added.
The Dublin-based carrier also said that it would reduce the number of aircraft kept in Belgium, Germany, Spain, Portugal and in Vienna for the season.
It also slashed its annual forecast for passenger traffic to 38 million for the group’s fiscal year to March next year. That compared with its prior guidance of 50 million.
Chief executive Michael O’Leary lashed out at government travel restrictions, adding that the group was focused on minimizing job losses.
“While we deeply regret these winter schedule cuts, they have been forced upon us by government mismanagement of EU air travel,” 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 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,” he added.
The airline’s shares fell 4.1 percent in early trading in Dublin after the announcement.
Rivals EasyJet PLC and Wizz Air Holdings PLC are also paring back capacity as they try to preserve cash and make it to next summer.
UK-based EasyJet, Europe’s second-biggest discount carrier, plans to fly only 25 percent of capacity for the fourth quarter, while Wizz, the third-largest, has said it will fly 50 percent of its usual offering this month, and will likely maintain that level through the winter.
Additional reporting by Bloomberg
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