Ryanair boss says demand will not recover until 2022

Low-cost airline Ryanair flew just 40,000 passengers last month as the coronavirus crisis brought air travel to a standstill, and warned that operations will continue to be affected throughout May and June.

The Dublin-based carrier – which last week announced it is axing 3,000 jobs – saw the number of passengers flown collapse 99.6% from 13.5 million a year ago after flights were grounded to help slow the spread of the pandemic.

The group ran 600 scheduled flights in April – including rescue and medical flights on behalf of various EU governments – compared with the 75,501 it had been expected to operate before the Covid-19 outbreak.

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“Due to multiple EU government flight bans and restrictions, Ryanair expects to carry minimal traffic during the months of May and June as well,” it added.

Ryanair - PA photoRyanair - PA photo
Ryanair - PA photo

The group joined rivals in announcing thousands of job losses last week as it faces an unprecedented aviation crisis and warned that flights will remain grounded until “at least July”.

Ryanair is cutting up to 3,000 jobs across pilots and cabin crew in a restructuring programme which could also involve unpaid leave and salaries being slashed by up to 20%, as well as the closure of a number of aircraft bases across Europe.

Chief executive Michael O’Leary, whose has also agreed to halve his pay, does not believe passenger demand will recover until summer 2022 at the earliest.

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Airlines around the world are facing a struggle to survive due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Last week it was announced that up to 12,000 British Airways workers are to lose their jobs, which is more than one in four employees.

Sir Richard Branson has also warned that Virgin Atlantic will collapse unless it receives Government support.

But in a separate update, budget European airline Wizz Air confirmed that it reopened its bases in London Luton and Vienna on May 1, with flights to selected destinations in a sign of easing conditions in some countries.

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It also announced new routes to Abu Dhabi from Budapest and Bucharest starting in June, as well as a new base in Ukraine from July 1 as it seeks to expand despite the aviation crisis.

Wizz Air – which focuses on the central and eastern European markets – said it operated at less than 3% of its capacity in April, including 71 cargo flights with medical equipment and 28 rescue flights.

It carried just 78,389 passengers last month, down 97.6% from 3.3 million a year ago.