A sign of what’s to come? Ryanair to reduce capacity by 20% as demand drops

Aug 18, 2020

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As the summer season draws to a close, Ryanair is reducing its capacity for the months ahead. For September and October, the ultra-low-cost carrier will reduce its capacity by 20%, as the carrier said that it’s seen a drop in the number of customers booking forward-looking travel.

In the past 10 days, Ryanair said that forward bookings for the months of September and October have slowed. And as a result, the carrier is dropping some frequencies in order to cope with the decreased demand.

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The airline did note that the majority of its capacity reductions are coming in the form of reduced frequencies, rather than cutting routes altogether. Additionally, the carrier said that the majority of the cuts would be on routes to Spain, France and Sweden, where government restrictions have focussed in recent weeks, and in Ireland, where there remains a strict quarantine requirement.

For passengers who had travel booked on a frequency or route that’s being cut, the airline said it’s emailing you with options. Given that the majority of cuts are coming in the form of frequencies, it’s possible that you could be rebooked on another frequency on the same route, though you may need to be flexible with your plans.

“Proper testing at airports, and effective tracing (as is being conducted in Germany and Italy) is the only realistic and proportionate method of supervising safe intra-EU air travel while effectively limiting the spread of the COVID-19 virus”, the airline said in a statement.

Airline and airport bosses have pressured the U.K. government to implement testing on arrival at Heathrow Airport as a means to avoid the 14-day quarantine requirement. However, the government has yet to rule the testing option a viable alternative.

In recent weeks, the U.K. government revised its advice and restrictions on travel to France and Spain, among other Ryanair destinations, such as the Netherlands and Malta, among others. Travellers entering England from any of the non-travel corridor countries now have to quarantine for 14 days. As such, Ryanair said that it’s seen decreased demand in travel to the destinations.

Related: All 71 countries and territories that are on the UK’s travel corridor list

The move to reduce capacity on many of these routes comes after the carrier’s CEO Michael O’Leary said several times that demand remained unaffected as a result of government restrictions. In recent months, Ryanair and other low-cost carriers such as EasyJet have said that they’ve added capacity to cope with the increase in demand. However, Monday’s announcement for the carrier shows the likelihood of a downturn as the summer holiday season comes to a close.

Related: EasyJet adds more flights to cope with high summer demand

Airline executives have warned of a decrease in demand as we enter the typically slow winter months. The coronavirus pandemic, coupled with the flu season, means that Ryanair expects its traffic to drop by 60% in 2020/2021.

In its first-quarter earnings announcement, Ryanair reported a net loss of 185 million euro, slightly better than market expectations. However, it’s predicting that the next 12 months “will be a very challenging year” for the carrier.

“It’s impossible to predict how long the COVID-19 pandemic will persist, and a second wave of COVD-19 cases across Europe in late autumn (when the annual flu season commences) is our biggest fear right now”, the carrier said in a statement.

Featured photo by Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto/Getty Images.

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