Ryanair Reveals Ambitious Summer Expansion Despite COVID-19

Ryanair has shown that it is excited about the summer 2021 travel season despite the continuing headache caused for the industry by COVID-19. The Irish low-cost carrier today revealed that it plans to launch 26 new routes for the summer season.

Ryanair, Summer 2021, Covid schedule
Ryanair has revealed its expected summer schedule from the United Kingdom this summer. Photo: Getty Images

It’s fair to say that things are currently looking grim for airlines within the United Kingdom. While airlines seek to resume flights and get passengers moving again, government restrictions are presently standing in the way. Just yesterday, Simple Flying reported that England is seeking to fine anybody traveling without a valid reason up to £5000.

A strong summer?

Ryanair Group CEO Micheal O’Leary is optimistic about the summer. With over half of the UK adult population already vaccinated, he believes that British travelers will be welcomed across the EU this summer. Additionally, he believes that EU countries will soon catch up with vaccination rates, with a hope that the continent will reopen this summer.

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According to the airline, its summer 2021 schedule will feature at least 480 routes, equating to more than 2,300 flights each week. The airline will focus on typical popular holiday destinations such as France, Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain. Greece, as an example, has already said that it will accept vaccinated passengers from the UK this summer.

Ryanair, Health Passport, Summer 2021
Mask requirements are unlikely to be relaxed in the near future. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

What will flying look like this summer?

It looks as though flying with Ryanair this summer will look pretty similar to the current state. O’Leary commented that even if vaccination levels are at 80%, he intends to keep the mask requirement onboard flights for the foreseeable future. O’Leary commented that such measures would be kept until spring next year at the earliest.

O’Leary called the mask policy extremely successful, but he did point out one reason that the airline would drop its current mask requirement. He told reporters,

“If there are easements or if they, the European authorities mandate that people can travel in flight without wearing face masks, we will follow those guidelines. But for the moment, we see no reason to change the mandatory face mask policy.”

Ryanair 737 MAX
The 737 MAX will likely play a small part in Ryanair’s summer 2021 schedule. Photo: Boeing

Better than now

O’Leary refused to say exactly how the summer 2021 season would look in terms of revenue and passengers. However, almost any possible scenario would be better than where the airline currently sits. For the month of February, Ryanair only transported 0.5 million passengers across Europe, pushing it to levels not seen since the pandemic’s first wave.

The 0.5 million passenger figure is expected to carry over to March as the airline continues to operate an incredibly restricted schedule. This is likely to continue while strict travel restrictions remain in place.

What do you think summer will look like for Ryanair? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!