The chief executive of Ryanair has accused the UK government of mismanaging the Covid-19 crisis, as the airline halved its passenger forecast for this year and revealed it had tapped Britain’s corporate loan programme.
Michael O’Leary described the UK’s planned introduction of a 14-day quarantine period for travellers arriving from abroad as “idiotic and unimplementable”.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “This is the same government that has … mismanaged the crisis for many weeks.” He said the government UK was “making this stuff up as they go along”, referring to its transport policy. O’Leary added that face masks were essential for people travelling on mass transport.
He was confident that Brits, Irish and other northern Europeans would still head to Spain and Portugal on family holidays once the school holidays start. Italy announced over the weekend that it would reopen its borders to European holidaymakers on 3 June and drop its 14-day isolation period.
Ryanair said it had one of the strongest balance sheets in the industry with cash of €4.1bn (£3.7bn), after recently raising £600m under the UK’s Covid corporate financing facility, which was set up by the Treasury and the Bank of England to help large businesses weather the crisis.
O’Leary spoke as the airline, Europe’s largest, published a €1bn profit for the year to 31 March, up from €885m the previous year. It said the pandemic had cost it €40m in lost profits, after travel restrictions in Europe forced it to ground almost its entire fleet.
The Irish carrier forecast a loss of more than €200m for the first quarter, followed by a smaller loss in the second quarter. It expects to carry fewer than 80 million passengers this year, almost half its original 154 million target.
But it has reduced its weekly cash spending to €60m in May from €200m in March, and its shares jumped more than 10% to €9.32 in midday trading on Monday.