European low-cost giant Ryanair has canceled flights to Italy until the 8th of April. The decision was made as other airlines such as British Airways and Wizz Air announced similar measures. Yesterday Italy was out on lockdown to try and halt the spread of the disease.
The coronavirus outbreak has been having an effect globally. Initially, a huge drop in demand caused airlines to consolidate multiple flights on the same route in order to cut capacity. However, the wave of Italy flight cuts has been driven by something else entirely. The country has been placed in lockdown.
What does this mean for Ryanair?
Ryanair has been attempting to maintain some form of service to Italy. In fact, just yesterday the airline said: “Ryanair must continue to run this restricted 4 day week schedule to/from Northern Italy to repatriate these non-Italian citizens.” This was following a sharp increase in no-shows for flights to Northern Italy.
However, now things have changed. Earlier today the United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office advised against all but essential travel to Italy as a response to the measures announced by the Italian government.
A statement from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office earlier today read:
“The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all but essential travel to Italy, due to an ongoing outbreak of coronavirus (Covid-19) and in line with various controls and restrictions imposed by the Italian authorities on 9 March.”
What is the new policy?
Ryanair won’t immediately ground all flights bound for Italy. Instead, the airline will take a two-tiered approach. First to be affected by the flight cancellations will be domestic flights. Ryanair will cease operating domestic flights in Italy from midnight tomorrow. Domestic flights will remain suspended until the 8th of April, just under one month from now.
Following this, the Irish low-cost airline will look at cutting its international flights to and from Italy. This includes all flights to and from the country, including from locations such as London and Frankfurt. These international flights will be suspended from midnight on Friday. Again, the airline will not resume these flights until the 8th of April.
What does O’Leary think?
Simple Flying got the chance to speak to the man behind Europe’s largest low-cost carrier last week. In an interview with Simple Flying, Michael O’Leary seemed fairly positive with the whole situation, commenting:
“We expect this to evolve and spread in the next, my view is the next couple of weeks up until the run-up to Easter. Thereafter, my guess is that you have general temperatures rising, probably a slow down in the spread of the virus across Europe just as we move from Spring in to Summer”
What do you make of Ryanair’s decision to suspend Italy flights? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!