Ryanair chief accuses government of ‘panic’ over Spain

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has accused the government of a “panicked” and “badly managed” reaction to the rise in Covid-19 infections in Spain.

O’Leary dismissed the imposition of quarantine restrictions on arrivals from Spain to Britain as “making no more sense than other countries banning UK traffic because of Leicester”.

But he downplayed the impact of the 14-day self-isolation restrictions, saying: “We can suffer an interruption like two weeks to Spain from the UK.”

The UK government withdrew Spain from its ‘Covid safe’ or ‘travel corridors’ list from Sunday following a spike in Covid-19 infections in Catalonia.

Foreign Office advice was also changed to advise against non-essential travel to mainland Spain but initially left out the Balearic and Canary Islands. That changed late Monday afternoon when the advice was extended to the whole of Spain.

O’Leary said: “The UK government panicked over the weekend. It was a badly managed over-reaction.

“They should have controlled arrivals from Catalonia on a regional basis. But we have become used to the UK government mismanaging Covid-19.”

Jet2 and Tui cancelled flights to Spain for the next two to three weeks following the announcement. However, Ryanair continues to operate from the UK to mainland Spain and the Balearic and Canary Islands.

O’Leary said: “We don’t have cancellations. All our bookings are non-cancellable.

“We expect to see a drop in UK-Spain bookings over the next two weeks and an uptick in no shows. The fares are non-refundable, [but] we will continue to offer free changes [to flights].”

He suggested: “Many people will still fly. People will quarantine for 14 days on their return or will not quarantine as the case may be.”

O’Leary was speaking as Ryanair reported a €185 million loss for the three months to June compared with a €243 million profit for the same period last year.

He said: “We’re operating without any cash burn [and] the recovery in July and August has been reasonably strong. We are confident of 70% load factors.

“I’m more concerned about September and October. I would not rule out taking out more capacity [then].”

Ryanair operated 40% of its normal schedule in July and plans to operate 60% in August and 70% in September-October.

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