Ryanair slashes winter flights on virus restrictions

LONDON (AFP) – Ryanair said yesterday that it will slash more flights this winter, temporarily shutting bases in Cork and Shannon in Ireland, and Toulouse in France, due to coronavirus travel restrictions.

The Irish no-frills airline said it will slash its November-March capacity from 60 to 40 per cent of the prior year.

The carrier’s remaining routes will face fewer flights than normal, it added.

“Due to increased flight restrictions imposed by the European Union (EU) governments, air travel to and from much of Central Europe, the United Kingdom (UK), Ireland, Austria, Belgium and Portugal has been heavily curtailed,” Ryanair said.

“This has caused forward bookings to weaken slightly in October, but materially in November and December.

“In light of these weaker bookings, Ryanair has today further reduced its winter schedule (November-March) taking capacity down from 60 to 40 per cent of prior year.

“Ryanair expects to maintain up to 65 per cent of its winter route network, but with reduced frequencies. In addition to the winter closure of bases in Cork, Shannon, and Toulouse, Ryanair has announced significant base aircraft cuts in Belgium, Germany, Spain, Portugal and Vienna.” Chief Executive Michael O’Leary said the group was focussed on minimising job losses.

“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,” he said.

“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.”