Ryanair plans to restore 40% of its normal flying schedule of almost 1,000 flights a day from July 1 in a bid to save the summer tourist season across Europe.
The resumption of flights is conditional on government restrictions on intra-EU flights being lifted and effective public health measures being put in place at airports.
The no-frills carrier plans to restore 90% of its pre-Covid-19 route network, up from a skeleton service of just 30 flights a day between Ireland, the UK and the Continent since mid-March.
Ryanair hopes to re-start flying from most of its 80 bases across Europe in July with fares starting at €19.99 one-way.
There will be fewer daily and weekly frequencies on trunk routes, as the carrier works to restore some services on the widest number of routes, rather than operating high frequency services on a small number.
Chief executive Eddie Wilson said: “With more than six weeks to go to July 1, Ryanair believes this is the most practical date to resume normal flight schedules, so that we can allow friends and families to reunite, commuters to go back to work, and allow those tourism-based economies such as Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, France and others, to recover what is left of this year’s tourism season.”
Ryanair released a return to flying video on its website to encourage passengers to observe effective health measures to limit the Covid-19 virus.
These include fewer checked bags, online check-in, downloading boarding passed to smart phones, as well as undergoing temperature checks at airports and wearing face masks.
“While temperature checks and face masks/coverings are the cornerstone of this healthy return to service, social distancing at airports and on board aircraft will be encouraged where it is possible,” the airline said.
Ryanair cabin crew will wear face masks/coverings and a limited in-flight service will be offered of pre-packaged snacks and drinks, with cashless transactions.
Queuing for toilets will also be prohibited on board.
“Access will be made available to individual passengers upon request,” according to the airline which will also encourage regular hand washing and the use hand sanitizers in airport terminals.
Passengers flying in July and August will be required to fill in details at check-in of their travel plans “as a temporary further public health measure” while EU states emerge from their respective Covid-19 lockdowns.
The contact information will be provided to EU governments “to help them to monitor any isolation regulations they require of visitors on intra-EU flights”.
Wilson said: “It is important for our customers and our people that we return to some normal schedules from 1 July onwards.
“Governments around Europe have implemented a four-month lockdown to limit the spread of the Covid-19 virus.
“After four months, it is time to get Europe flying again so we can reunite friends and families, allow people to return to work, and restart Europe’s tourism industry, which provides so many millions of jobs.
“Ryanair will work closely with public health authorities to ensure that these flights comply, where possible, with effective measures to limit the spread of Covid-19.
“As already shown in Asia, temperature checks and face masks/coverings are the most effective way to achieve this on short haul – one hour – within Europe’s single market.”
He added: “Now that Europe’s states are allowing some gradual return to normal life, we expect this will evolve over the coming weeks and months.
“We will continue to work closely with public health agencies to encourage our people and passengers to adopt practical and effective steps to limit the spread of Covid-19 virus, in the best interest of our passengers, our people and our communities.”
Which? Travel editor Rory Boland said: “With the government set to introduce quarantine rules for passengers entering the country, expanding flight schedules now is likely to leave many families, who booked summer holidays months ago, with expensive flights they can’t take and no way to get their money back.
“Even if these flights are ultimately cancelled because the government does not lift its advice against foreign travel, customers face a fight for their money from an airline that has already been breaking the law by delaying refunds for customers.
“The aviation regulator and government must stand up for passengers’ rights and start taking action against any airlines that are flouting the law around refunds.”