Ryanair expects the short-haul travel market to “snap back” in August boosted by a delay in leisure traffic resuming beyond Europe.
Eddie Wilson, chief executive of Ryanair DAC – the main carrier in the Ryanair Group – said the EU Digital Covid Certificate had “given people confidence to book” and “with the UK announcement, we expect a return of travel to amber countries.
“August will show the level of the snap back. People will be able to move around Europe, but it will take a long time for international travel [beyond Europe] to recover. People will be scared they could be stranded.”
Speaking at a CAPA Centre for Aviation online summit, Wilson declined to give details of Ryanair’s current discounting but said: “There is always an element that is price led. You can sell anything if the price is right.
“It’s important we get as many people travelling as possible. Fares are a stimulation. They get people’s attention. But if it was all price led we would be at 90%-plus load factors and we’re not.
“We put the capacity in place and fill as much as possible.”
Wilson hit out at the Irish government’s continuing restrictions, saying: “The Irish government got caught in the headlights of the medics. We still don’t have indoor dining in Ireland and we’re the one place in Europe that needs it in July.
“Winter is going to be bleak for the Irish market.”
But he said Ryanair would scale up rapidly elsewhere while many airlines would never return to their former size.
He stressed the carrier’s choice of routes would be driven by cost concessions by airports.
Wilson argued: “We have 210 aircraft on order and more than 60 arriving this year and those aircraft have to go somewhere.
“Who else is taking delivery of 60-plus aircraft this year? The aircraft are going to go where we have sensitivity on costs.
“The key for airports is that they add destinations. For us, it’s about airport cost and competitiveness, not really about destinations.”
He added: “Most airlines are getting smaller. You have Norwegian Air at a fraction of the size it was. Airlines like Alitalia and TAP Air Portugal are never going to grow back. They should just free up their slots.”