Ryanair will cut a further one in five of its flights scheduled in October, blaming Irish and EU governments for what it called “excessive and defective” travel restrictions.
The move comes on top of an earlier 20% reduction in flights in September and October, which it announced in August, blaming a drop in bookings and the introduction of fresh quarantine requirements.
Ryanair expects to fly 40% of flights in October compared with the same month in 2019, a fall from the 50% it had previously predicted. However, it hopes its planes will fly almost three-quarters (70%) full.
The budget carrier said the reductions in capacity were necessary because of frequent, and often short-notice, changes to travel restrictions and policies being introduced by EU governments, which have affected customers’ willingness to make future bookings.
Ryanair said it was “disappointed” to cancel more flights, but warned it may announce more cuts if travel restrictions remain in place.
“While it is too early yet to make final decisions on our winter schedule (from November to March), if current trends and EU governments’ mismanagement of the return of air travel and normal economic activity continue, then similar capacity cuts may be required across the winter period,” said a Ryanair spokesperson.
Ryanair accused the Irish government of keeping “Ireland locked up like North Korea since 1 July”, and claimed that this had not prevented Covid-19 rates from rising in the country.
The carrier drew comparisons with Italy and Germany, which have reopened their borders to all EU travellers, but have lower rates of coronavirus cases than Ireland.
“Intra-EU air travel is not the problem and these defective travel bans are not a solution,” the spokesperson said.
The airline is calling on the EU to introduce a coordinated approach to travel restrictions, provided the number of coronavirus cases in a country remain below a certain threshold.