Weak forward bookings force further Ryanair winter cuts

Ryanair has further cut back its winter schedule to 40% of last year’s level.

The reduction from previous plans to run 60% of flights was blamed on increased travel restrictions across Europe.

Bases at Cork, Shannon and Toulouse will be closed for the winter period, while the number of aircraft based in Belgium, Germany, Spain, Portugal and Vienna will be cut.

Travel curbs have caused a weakening of forward bookings “slightly” for October but “materially” for November and December.

Europe’s largest budget airline cut its full year carryings forecast to 38 million passengers from pre-Covid levels of around 150 million.

But the reduced forecast could be further revised downwards if EU governments “continue to mismanage air travel and impose more lockdowns this winter”.

Ryanair plans to operate with 70% load factors and expects to maintain up to 65% of its winter route network, but with reduced frequencies.

Group chief executive Michael O’Leary said: “We have continued to flex our capacity in September and October to reflect both market conditions and changing government restrictions, with the objective of sustaining a 70% load factor, which allows us operate as close to breakeven as possible and minimise cash burn.

“While the Covid situation remains fluid and hard to predict, we must now cut our full year traffic forecast to 38 million guests.

“While we deeply regret these winter schedule cuts they have been forced upon us by government mismanagement of EU air travel, 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 minimising 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.”

But he added: “There will regrettably be more redundancies at those small number of cabin crew bases, where we have still not secured agreement on working time and pay cuts, which is the only alternative.

“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.

“In the meantime, we urge all EU governments to immediately, and fully, adopt the EU Commission’s traffic light system, which allows for safe air travel between EU states on a regional basis to continue -without defective travel restrictions – for those countries and regions of Europe, who are able to demonstrate that their Covid case rates are less than 50 per 100,000 population.”

Share article

View Comments

Jacobs Media Group is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

The highest official awards for UK businesses since being established by royal warrant in 1965. Read more.