Ryanair has announced that it would cut its October capacity by a further 20% (in addition to the 20% cut already announced in mid-August). The operator now expects its October capacity to fall from 50% to approximately 40% of its October 2019 levels but expects to maintain a 70%+ load factor at this reduced schedule.

The LCC confirmed that these capacity reductions were necessary due to damage caused to forward bookings by continuous changes in EU government travel restrictions and policies, many of which are introduced at short notice, which undermine consumers’ willingness to make forward bookings. In some countries (most notably Ireland), where the Irish government has maintained excessive and defective travel restrictions since 1 July, COVID-19 rates have risen in recent weeks to 50 per 100,000 population – more than double those of Germany and Italy – where intra-EU air travel was freely permitted since 1 July.

The operator welcomed the EU Commission’s plan to remove intra-EU travel restrictions, subject only to the European Centre for Disease Prevention Control and the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention weekly update on COVID case/positive test trend rates by EU country and region, and calls for this coordinated approach to be immediately implemented by all EU states, especially Ireland, so that EU citizens can make essential bookings for business and family travel, free from the worry of flight cancellations and/or defective quarantine restrictions.

A Ryanair spokesperson said: “We are disappointed to reduce our October capacity from 50% of 2019 to 40%. However, as customer confidence is damaged by government mismanagement of COVID travel policies, many Ryanair customers are unable to travel for business or urgent family reasons without being subjected to defective 14-day quarantines.

“While it is too early yet to make final decisions on our winter schedule (from November to March), if current trends and EU governments’ mismanagement of the return of air travel and normal economic activity continues, then similar capacity cuts may be required across the winter period,” the Ryanair spokesperson continued.

“We call on Ireland’s Transport Minister Eamon Ryan to explain why, over two months later, he still hasn’t implemented any of the 14 recommendations of the government’s Aviation Task Force which were submitted to the government on 7 July last. He should also explain why the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) has kept Ireland locked up like North Korea since 1 July, while at the same time Italy and Germany removed all intra-EU travel restrictions and have delivered COVID case rates which are less than half the rate, which NPHET has presided over in Ireland. Intra EU air travel is not the problem and these defective travel bans are not a solution,” concluded the Ryanair spokesperson.

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