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A Ryanair Boeing 737-800 landing. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

Ryanair Focuses on Leisure Routes In Winter 2021 Flight Schedule

The COVID-19 crisis marked a significant decline in business travel and corporate conferences as companies and corporations began a shift toward video meetings and adapting to virtual training and networking. As a result, airlines were forced to alter schedules away from routes often frequented by business travelers and modify onboard cabin service to align with COVID-19 guidelines.

That led to a shift in operations towards leisure travel with the introduction and the expansion of new routes centered around capturing as much of the remaining market as possible. Major airlines in the U.S. adapted accordingly to the transformative changes, launching routes throughout 2020 and into the beginning of this year.

But just this weekend, across the pond in Europe, Ryanair — an airline notable for competitively marketing itself towards holiday travelers — officially announced its schedule for winter 2021 into the beginning of 2022. The Irish low-cost carrier plans to bolster its route network to high-demand tourist destinations across the European continent such as The Canary Islands, Cyprus, Greece and Sicily.

“While we believe the successful roll-out of the vaccine will see Europeans enjoying their favorite spots this summer, Ryanair wants to give customers further choice and something to look forward to, whether that is a break to reunite with friends and family in July, or a winter sun getaway to the sunny Greek Islands in November,” Ryanair Director of Marketing Dara Brady said in a statement.

The airline also scheduled a number of additional flights for ski destinations such as Milan, Italy; Turin, Italy and Salzberg, Austria. Even so, Ryanair plans to operate flights for tourism to major metropolitans like Paris; Venice, Italy and Lisbon, Portugal.

A New Tactic

Ryanair’s ambitious and extensive schedule for the end of 2021 and into 2022 could be the airline’s pivotal move to stem the stream losses it has seen throughout 2020. The airline recently released its fiscal year Q3 report, announcing a loss of 306 million Euros ($371 million).

The carrier also reported a 78% drop in passenger traffic from roughly 36 million passengers, decreasing to approximately 8.1 million passengers carried during the third quarter, a figure emblematic of COVID-19-related flight bans, strict travel restrictions and widespread entry requirements. Additionally, the major European low-cost carrier experienced a decrease of 83 percent in passenger traffic during last year’s holiday season — a point of the year when travel demand is near its peak.

With 20 million seats on sale on over 700 routes and further destinations to be released in the coming weeks, customers can now book a winter getaway until the end of March 2022, always on the lowest fares,” Brady added, an outlook depicted by the airline’s decision to push for leisure travelers and increase flexibility around travel changes.

As the airline continues to hone its strategy to overcome the effects of COVID-19, its focus seems to be on leisure travelers and increasing passenger traffic to tourist destinations. However, given the airline’s prior reputation among that demographic, if the carrier continues to strategically align itself to accommodate the current travel demand, Ryanair will be able to level the playing field and offset its losses.

Benjamin Pham
Benjamin Pham
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