Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary fears a second wave of Covid and expects the next six to 12 months to be “grim”.

But the chief executive of Ryanair Holdings, who accused the government of “panic” in reimposing quarantine restrictions on travellers from Spain, insists Ryanair will profit from the Covid crisis.

He said: “As long as there is a reasonably uninterrupted return of air travel we will continue at around 60% [capacity].”

O’Leary warned: “Where governments impose restrictions we will pull out capacity.” Yet he suggested: “Many people will still fly.”

Ryanair reported a €185 million loss for the three months to June on Monday. The airline resumed flying at the end of June, operated 40% of its normal schedule this month and plans to operate 60% in August and 70% in September.

Noting a “reasonably strong” recovery in July and August with 70% load factors expected, he said: “The biggest challenge is going to be managing the return of schools in September. To the extent they manage that there will be some return of business travel. If it isn’t managed, it will affect the recovery of business travel.”

O’Leary added: “We’re challenged by particular spikes in Covid-19 and by government restrictions.

“We’ve seen the collapse of airlines in Europe and there will be more. Ryanair will be one of the few to grow. Traffic will return through very low pricing and that will mean further failures. There will be significant opportunities for us to grow.”

O’Leary acknowledged: “It depends how Covid develops. In the short term, it’s sensible to be more pessimistic than optimistic. Our biggest fear is a second wave of Covid across Europe and government restrictions. We have no idea what will happen this winter. The next six to 12 months could be grim.

“At best, we’ll see a return to pre-Covid volumes by summer 2021, but that will be at a lot lower airfares. The volume recovery will be strong but pricing weak. Covid will continue to be challenging.”

However, he said: “What the last three months demonstrates is we can cope with these challenges. Covid will pass. We’ll be one of the survivors and will rebound strongly. The recovery will be rapid and dramatic. How long pricing takes to recover is anyone’s guess.”

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