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Ryanair Announce Schedule Cuts and Further Downgrades Annual Forecast

Ryanair has advised financial markets that schedules will be cut and forecasts lowered due to stricter countrywide lockdowns and travel restrictions in the United Kingdom, Ireland and a number of European countries. The Irish airline now forecasts total passenger numbers for the first quarter of 2021 to total just over 2 million with only 500,000 travelers in both February and March. Ryanair now predicts that its full-year passenger number for the 12 months ending in March 2021 to be between 26 and 30 million. This compares to its last fiscal year ending March 2020 when passenger numbers totaled 149 million and the CoVid-19 pandemic had just begun to affect airline operations.

The Financial Times also reported that easyJet and British Airways would be cutting their schedules and that Hungarian airline Wizz Air which had announced added capacity into the U.K. market would now be reviewing plans for the coming months. The cuts come as future travel confidence by passengers is being felt with aviation analysts Goodbody stating, “Pre-booking activity for the spring and summer 2021 season is just not there. This will defer the usual cash inflows expected by the (airline) industry at this time of the year.”

In an announcement on Thursday Ryanair cited displeasure at the stricter Irish and U.K. government lockdown and subsequent travel restrictions. The release stated that from 21 January the airline will cut schedules ‘which will result in few, if any, flights being operated to/from Ireland or the UK from the end of Jan until such time as these draconian travel restrictions are removed.’

A spokesperson for Ryanair called upon governments to seek alternatives to quarantine and travel bans to contain the spread of the pandemic. “The WHO (World Health Organization) has previously confirmed that Governments should do everything possible to avoid brutal lockdowns because lockdowns ‘do not get rid of the virus’. Ireland’s Covid-19 travel restrictions are already the most stringent in Europe, and so these new flight restrictions are inexplicable and ineffective when Ireland continues to operate an open border between the Republic and the North of Ireland,” they said.

Airlines around the world have been lobbying for alternative measures to be introduced to avoid 14-day quarantine rules such as more stringent testing both pre and post-travel to minimize deterrents to travel. Ryanair has gone so far as to blame Ireland’s health agency of mismanagement regarding the response to the global pandemic, particularly in relation to the rollout of the recent vaccines authorized to protect from the virus.

“NPHET (Ireland’s Public Health Team), which we believe has mismanaged many aspects of Ireland’s Covid response (face masks, test & trace, international travel, care homes and meat factories), should now release a daily report of the number of vaccines administered in Ireland, and explain why they continue to run behind the vaccination rates of other similar sized EU countries. Vaccinations rather than lockdowns is the way out of this Covid-19 crisis, and the sooner NPHET takes action to accelerate Ireland’s vaccine rollout speed, the better. (Note: emphasis is from the original press release)”

John Flett
John Flett
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