Ryanair Returns To The Skies As 50% Of Refunds Now Processed

Today marks Ryanair’s big push to return to the skies following three months of operating few services. The airline intends to operate around 1,000 daily services from today onwards, having operated just 20 routes per week at the height of the crisis. Despite the UK’s quarantine, the airline’s CEO, Micheal O’Leary, has said that flights today should have a 70% load factor.

Ryanair, Load Factor, Refunds
Ryanair today returned to the skies after three months of almost no flights. Photo: Getty Images

We couldn’t believe our eyes when, in late March, Ryanair announced it would be suspending the majority of its services until June. This was eventually pushed to July. However, like many other operators around Europe, the airline is now looking to recover its services.

1,000 daily flights

Ryanair’s return to the skies will likely be welcomed by travelers, airports, and airline employees alike. While the airline was only operating a skeleton service during the height of the crisis, it has been running around 250 flights a day for the last few days.

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This was to get the airline’s many different functions back in motion. Additionally, it allowed the airline to reactivate and reposition aircraft. However, today was the real big kick-off for Ryanair’s post-crisis recovery. To put the airline’s return to service into perspective, take a look at this graphic comparing Ryanair aircraft tracked flying by FlightRadar24.com at 09:35 UTC on April 14th, compared to the same time today:

70% load factor

According to Ryanair’s well-known CEO, Michael O’Leary, the airline is expecting to have around a 70% load factor today. In an interview with Sky News, O’Leary said that about 150 of his aircraft would be back in the skies today. These would operate around 1,000 flights, with approximately 104,000 passengers expected on those flights.

Yesterday Simple Flying traveled on a Ryanair flight to Frankfurt. While most of the airline’s policies were being implemented, there was still room for improvement. For example, Ryanair previously told us, “during boarding, no customers will be allowed to dwell in boarding stairwells or air bridges.” However, this was not the case yesterday.

3,500 job cuts possible

Talking about the impact of the current crisis, O’Leary said,

“This is the most devastating damage that the airline industry in it’s 100-year history has ever seen… we announced a month ago about a maximum about three and a half thousand job loss… What we’re saying is that, look, if you agree pay cuts, we think we can minimize or have almost no job losses… The first question they’ve asked is are you taking a pay cut? And I said, yes I’m taking a 50% pay cut for the rest of this year until March of 2021”

Ryanair, easyjet, Peter Bellew
O’Leary has taken a 50% pay cut until March 2021. Photo: Getty Images

What about quarantine?

Of course, O’Leary couldn’t talk about the state of the industry without mentioning the UK’s blanket 14-day quarantine that he calls ‘stupid.’ While discussing the policy, O’Leary revealed that a High Court challenge launched against the government by Ryanair, British Airways, and easyJet would be heard of Friday.

And refunds?

Many Ryanair passengers have been vocal about the airline’s slow response to handling refunds. The airline caused outrage among consumers when it issued travel vouchers instead of cash, as it said its refund team was not able to work at the office due to social distancing rules. Additionally, due to security policies, they were not able to work from home when issuing refunds.

TSA, Passengers, Aviation Recovery
The Irish LCC has cleared around 50% of its refund backlog. Photo: Getty Images

However, O’Leary had good news on the topic of refunds. He told Sky News that 50% of the total backlog for refunds has now been cleared. This corresponds to all of March and most of April. By the end of July, the airline expects to have most of its remaining refund backlog cleared.

Have you flown with Ryanair since it resumed services? Let us know your experience in the comments!