‘Draconian’ travel curbs ground flights at Ryanair as airlines are forced to trim their threadbare schedules once again
Ryanair has warned it expects to run ‘few, if any’ flights from the UK during the third lockdown, as the struggling travel industry braces for yet more turbulence.
The budget airline yesterday said it is now expecting to carry just 26m and 30m passengers in the year to March 31.
That is worse than its previous forecast of ‘below 30m’ and well below the 149m it carried the previous year.
Grounded: Ryanair yesterday said it is now expecting to carry just 26m and 30m passengers in the year to March 31
The gloomy update sent Ryanair’s shares 1 per cent, or €0.16 lower to €15.6 yesterday. Rival Easyjet also dipped 0.1 per cent, or 0.8p, to 798.6p.
Airlines have been forced to trim their already threadbare schedules once again this month after the UK imposed its third national lockdown, preventing all but essential travel.
Following the new restrictions, and with neighbouring Ireland also under lockdown, Ryanair said it expects to carry fewer than 1.25m passengers this month.
In February and March the monthly figures could drop as low as 500,000 – well below the usual 10m or so it would have expected before the pandemic.
The British and Irish measures ‘will result in few, if any, flights being operated to/from Ireland or the UK from the end of January until such time as these draconian travel restrictions are removed’, Ryanair said in a statement.
The airline will significantly reduce its flight schedules from January 21 until the end of the current lockdown, it added.
The stark situation underlines the challenge facing many airlines, which enjoyed a brief recovery in activity over the summer months but must now survive a bleak winter.
Whilst the latest lockdown did not come as a surprise, analysts say it will be another setback to the industry’s recovery hopes.
Shares in rival IAG were down 0.5 per centafter Andrew Lobbenberg, analyst at HSBC, warned that the airline group might have to sell British Airways. IAG may be left with no alternative due to strict Brussels rules on ownership.