Ryanair is to cut 3,000 jobs while warning that recovery in passenger demand from the coronavirus crisis could take two years.
Europe’s largest no-frills carrier attacked €30 billion of state aid being injected into European flag carriers as “unlawful and discriminatory”.
Ryanair expects some flights to resume from July after scheduling less than 1% of services in the three months to June due to European flight restrictions.
The airline warned that it will carry less than 150,000 passengers in the quarter against an originally projected figure of 42.4 million.
Numbers will then be half the expected target of 44.6 million in the July to September peak summer period.
As a result, Ryanair now expects to carry less than 100 million passengers in the financial year to March 2021, more than 35% below its original 154 million target.
Growth plans and aircraft orders are being reviewed with “active negotiations” with both Boeing and leasing firms to cut the number of planned aircraft deliveries over the next 24 months “to more accurately reflect a slower and more distorted EU air travel market in a post Covid-19 world”.
The airline said in a market update today: “As a direct result of the unprecedented Covid-19 crisis, the grounding of all flights from mid-March until at least July, and the distorted state aid landscape in Europe, Ryanair now expects the recovery of passenger demand and pricing to 2019 levels will take at least two years, until summer 2022 at the earliest.
“The Ryanair airlines will shortly notify their trade unions about its restructuring and job loss programme, which will commence from July 2020.
“These plans will be subject to consultation but will affect all Ryanair airlines, and may result in the loss of up to 3,000 mainly pilot and cabin crew jobs, unpaid leave, and pay cuts of up to 20%, and the closure of a number of aircraft bases across Europe until traffic recovers.
“Job cuts and pay cuts will also be extended to head office and back office teams.”
Group chief executive Michael O’Leary, whose pay was halved by 50% for April and May, has agreed to extend his pay cut to March 2021.
Brian Strutton, general secretary of plots’ union Balpa, said: “There has been no warning or consultation by Ryanair about the 3,000 potential job losses and this is miserable news for pilots and staff who have taken pay cuts under the government job retention scheme.
“Ryanair seems to have done a U-turn on its ability to weather the Covid storm.
“Aviation workers are now facing a tsunami of job losses.
“The UK government has to stop day-dreaming and keep to the promise made by the chancellor on 17 March to help airlines or this industry, vital to the UK economy, will be devastated.”
Unite national officer for aviation Oliver Richardson said: “This is another premature announcement, especially while the government’s job retention scheme remains fully up and running.
“Ryanair has significant cash reserves and is in a better place than many airlines to cope with the challenges that the Covid-19 pandemic has created.
“Ryanair has agreed to consult on its proposals with Unite next week and the union will be arguing that this announcement should be reversed.
“The statement by Ryanair, which follows hot on the heels of the British Airways announcement, further underlines why it is absolutely imperative that the UK works with all relevant stakeholders to provide long-term financial assistance for the aviation sector.
“If the government fails to provide such assistance, which is already being offered by other European countries to their airlines, then the UK aviation sector faces a very bleak future.”