How The Pandemic Has Impacted Ryanair’s UK-Ireland Flights

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the aviation industry hard. Ryanair noted this while revealing its third-quarter results earlier today. However, the airline has also referenced the current COVID-19 travel restrictions for UK and Irish travelers as accelerating the situation recently. Just how much has the crisis impacted the Irish carrier, though? Simple Flying decided to find out.

Ryanair, UK Ireland, COVID-19
Ryanair’s UK-Ireland flights are currently operating at lower levels than the first wave of COVID-19. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

In partnership with the team at AirNav’s, Simple Flying looked at just how many flights Ryanair has operated between the UK and Ireland over the past 13 months, with an emphasis on how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted operations.

Traffic back to first wave levels

Before the pandemic, Ryanair flew between 110 and 150 flights between the UK and Ireland each day. Of course, when Ryanair announced that it expected to ground almost all flights on March 18th, it meant it. Over the course of a couple of days, Ryanair went from operating between six and 17 flights between the UK and Ireland each day. The airline was operating a skeleton service of around 20 routes, with all flights starting or ending at London Stansted or Dublin Airport.

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Things got slightly better on July 1st when the airline resumed flying on a more regular schedule, albeit at a lower frequency than before the crisis. This saw a minimum of 34 flights operating each day until the start of October, when airlines once again began cutting their schedules. On August 10th, the airline hit a pandemic high of 81 flights between the two countries in one day.

Ryanair, UK Ireland, COVID-19
Ryanair experienced a modest recovery in services between the two nations towards the end of Summer. Graph:

Up until mid-November, flight frequencies stabilized between eight flights at their lowest on October 21st and 61 on October 25th. Note that the repeated peaks and troughs are due to the cycle of demand each week.

Flights then dropped to a new low for a month from November 17th. There was a peak from December 17th to December 20th, right as new travel bans were being implemented against the UK due to a new variant of COVID-19. As this was the weekend before Christmas, many people wanted to travel. However, with few exceptions since then, the levels have remained low with a handful of flights operating each day, mainly between Dublin and London.

What’s next for Ryanair?

Unfortunately for Europe’s biggest low-cost carrier, the next few months don’t look bright and rosy. Ryanair has predicted that it will carry just 0.5 million passengers in each of February and March. To put this into context, such low passenger numbers haven’t been seen since June, when the airline was still operating a skeleton service.

Ryanair, UK Ireland, COVID-19
Ryanair expects passenger numbers to remain low until Easter. Graph: Simple Flying

Ryanair expects that the current trough of air travel will last until Easter (April 4th), and as such, the airline’s full-year passenger count (April to March) is expected to be between 26 to 30 million. Last financial year, it clocked in at 148.6 million passengers.

How long do you think the second COVID-19 wave will impact Ryanair’s operations? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!