Recently Ryanair announced big reductions in its winter schedule. This decision comes as there are coronavirus travel restrictions all across the continent.
However, the airline blames the European governments for “mishandling” air travel during the pandemic. The Ireland-based budget airline said Thursday that it will cut around a third of its flight routes this winter.
It said demand for flights is very low to and from the U.K., Ireland, Austria, Belgium, Portugal, and much of central Europe.
Operating at Less Capacity
The airline will be operating with up to 65% of its route network between November and March. It will close its bases in the Irish cities of Cork and Shannon, and Toulouse in France through the period. Moreover, it will be operating with fewer flights on these routes.
However, Ryanair will be operating at just 40 percent capacity in winter of what it was 12 months earlier. Previously the airline planned to operate at 60 percent of its winter capacity. <span;>It also said it expects to fill 70% of seats on its planes.
As a result, the airline said it will implement more unpaid leave and job-sharing during the winter. A move that Chief Executive Michael O’Leary described as “a better short-term outcome than mass job losses.”
However, he says there will “regrettably be more redundancies at those small number of cabin crew bases where we are still not able to secure agreement on working time and pay cuts, which is the only alternative.”
Recurrence of the Virus
Due to the resurgence of the coronavirus in Europe over the past few weeks. European governments are again imposing travel restrictions after easing restrictions during the summer.
O’Leary said the cutbacks upon us are because of the government mismanagement of European air travel.
“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,” O’Leary said.
Over the past few months, airlines including Air France, British Airways, and easyJet have cut back their already reduced winter schedules as a result of the resurgence of the virus and the travel restrictions.
Ryanair’s share price in London fell by 4.3% after the announcement. Other airlines saw their stocks fall too, including British Airways’ parent company, International Airlines Group, which was down 2.8%.
“Spikes in coronavirus cases across Europe are resulting in fresh regional lockdowns. Adding to worries that the international travel sector will remain depressed for a lot longer than previously feared,” said Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at stockbrokers Hargreaves Lansdown.