Flights: Ryanair slashes flight schedule – very ‘few’ departures from UK within weeks

Ryanair CEO criticises new travel restrictions

Irish airline Ryanair has been forced to cut its flight schedule in line with rapidly dwindling passenger traffic predictions for the first three months of 2021. The move comes in the wake of yet more lockdowns across Europe, something the airline slams as “ineffective”.

Following the latest lockdown measures across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, the airline predicts its January traffic will fall to under 1.25 million passengers.

It also believes the new coronavirus restrictions could reduce February and March traffic to as little as 500,000 passengers each month.

From Thursday, January 21, Ryanair has outlined plans to “significantly cut” its flight schedule.

In a press release, the airline states there will be “few if any, flights being operated to or from Ireland or the UK from the UK from the end of January until such a time as these draconian travel restrictions are removed”.

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The new cutbacks will also reduce full-year traffic forecast from currently “below 35m” to between 26m and 30m.

All customers affected by the new flight cancellations will be contacted by the airline to discuss their options.

Passengers will be entitled to move their journey to a future date, or claim back a full refund.

Airline bosses are also urging the Irish and UK government’s to accelerate the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine.

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“The WHO have previously confirmed that Governments should do everything possible to avoid brutal lockdowns because lockdowns ‘do not get rid of the virus’, commented a Ryanair spokesperson.

“Ireland’s COVID-19 travel restrictions are already the most stringent in Europe, and so these new flight restrictions are inexplicable and ineffective when Ireland continues to operate an open border between the Republic and the North of Ireland.”

The spokesperson continued: “Since Ireland’s third lockdown will not get rid of the covid virus, there is an onus on the Irish Government to accelerate the rollout of vaccines, and the fact that the Danish Government, with a similar 5m population, has already vaccinated 10 times more citizens than Ireland shows that emergency action is needed to speed covid vaccinations in Ireland.

“NPHET (Ireland’s Public Health Team), which we believe has mismanaged many aspects of Ireland’s Covid response (face masks, test & trace, international travel, care homes and meat factories), should now release a daily report of the number of vaccines administered in Ireland, and explain why they continue to run behind the vaccination rates of other similar sized EU countries.

“Vaccinations rather than lockdowns is the way out of this COVID-19 crisis, and the sooner NPHET takes action to accelerate Ireland’s vaccine rollout speed, the better.”

Ryanair is the latest in a string of airlines which have been forced to amend and reduce schedules amid the latest lockdown measures.

Following Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement on Monday evening, Jet2, British Airways and easyJet all amended schedules.

Jet2 cancelled all flights and holiday packages until mid-February with the exception of its ski flights and Iceland programme.

A spokesperson said: “Due to the ongoing uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and government travel restrictions, we have taken the decision to extend the suspension of flights and holidays up to and including February 11, 2021.

“Where customers yet to travel are affected by any programme changes, we have been repeatedly recognised for how we have been looking after them, and we will be automatically cancelling these bookings with a full refund.”

British Airways said it would be “reviewing its flight schedule following the announcement of new national lockdown restrictions.”

Meanwhile, easyJet detailed plans to “review all holiday bookings” and said it would be contacting affected customers.

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