Today, Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair revealed that it would be slashing its flight network to and from the United Kingdom and Ireland. The announcement comes as the airline anticipates a significant drop in passenger numbers due to ‘draconian travel restrictions’ implemented by the relevant governments.
England is currently in its third lockdown, along with Ireland, which is in a similar third lockdown. As part of these lockdowns, travel has been strongly discouraged. Indeed, in England, passengers ‘can only travel internationally – or within the UK – where you first have a legally permitted reason to leave home.’
Slashing the flight schedule
Today Ryanair revealed that it would be reducing its flight schedule for the remainder of January, in addition to February and March. As part of these cuts, the low-cost giant expects to operate few, if any, flights to and from Ireland and the United Kingdom ‘until such time as these draconian travel restrictions are removed.’
Stay informed: Sign up for our daily aviation news digest.
Despite having a relatively strong summer, Ryanair’s passenger numbers have tanked once more. The airline foresees that in January, it will carry no more than 1.25 million passengers. It carried 10.3 and 10.8 million passengers in January 2019 and 2020, respectively.
The prediction gets even worse when we move to look at February and March. In each month, Ryanair predicts that it will carry fewer than half a million passengers. This equates to passenger numbers not seen since June.
Cutting full-year traffic forecast
As a result of the cuts to the monthly traffic forecasts, Ryanair has also once again slashed its traffic forecast for the financial year until March 2021. As of yesterday, Ryanair’s traffic forecast for the full financial year sat below 35 million passengers. The Irish airline has now revised this figure to between 26 million and 30 million passengers. In the nine months to the end of December, Ryanair carried 25.01 million passengers. In the previous financial year, the airline carried 148.6 million passengers.
Commenting on the reduced figures, a Ryanair spokesperson said,
“The WHO have previously confirmed that Governments should do everything possible to avoid brutal lockdowns, because lockdowns “do not get rid of the virus”. Ireland’s Covid-19 travel restrictions are already the most stringent in Europe, and so these new flight restrictions are inexplicable and ineffective when Ireland continues to operate an open border between the Republic and the North of Ireland.”
Yesterday Simple Flying reported that Ryanair had come under investigation from the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority over its ‘Jab & Go’ advertisement campaign. The campaign encouraged travelers to book summer flights at low fares now. The ASA said that it had launched an investigation into whether the advert had broken its rules, with the findings set to be published in due course.
What do you make of Ryanair’s revised passenger numbers for the year? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!