Ryanair To Cut Winter Capacity From 60% To 40% Of Prior Year

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Cork, Shannon, Toulouse Bases To Close For Winter As FY Traffic Guidance Reduced To 38m

Ryanair, Europe’s largest airline, has released its revised winter schedule. According to the airline, due to increased flight restrictions imposed by EU Governments, air travel to/from much of Central Europe, the UK, Ireland, Austria, Belgium and Portugal have been heavily curtailed. This has caused forward bookings to weaken slightly in Oct, but materially in November and December.


The airline said in the light of these weaker bookings, and Ryanair’s plan to operate with a 70% load factors, Ryanair has further reduced its winter schedule (Nov – Mar) taking capacity down from 60% to 40% of prior year. Ryanair expects to maintain up to 65% of its winter route network, but with reduced frequencies. In addition to the winter closure of bases in Cork, Shannon, and Toulouse, Ryanair has announced significant base aircraft cuts in Belgium, Germany, Spain, Portugal and Vienna.


With this greatly reduced winter capacity and load factors of approximately 70%, Ryanair said it now expects full-year (FY21) traffic to fall to approximately 38m guests, although this guidance could be further revised downwards if EU Governments continue to mismanage air travel and impose more lockdowns this winter.


Ryanair’s Group CEO Michael O’Leary was quoted by the airline as saying: “We have continued to flex our capacity in Sept & Oct to reflect both market conditions and changing Government restrictions, with the objective of sustaining a 70% load factor, which allows us operate as close to breakeven as possible and minimise cash burn. While the Covid situation remains fluid and hard to predict, we must now cut our full year traffic forecast to 38m guests. 

He expressed regret over the winter schedule cuts, but said “they have been forced upon us by Government mismanagement of EU air travel.”

“Our focus continues to be on maintaining as large a schedule as we can sensibly operate to keep our aircraft, our pilots and our cabin crew current and employed while minimising job losses. It is inevitable, given the scale of these cutbacks, that we will be implementing  more unpaid leave, and job sharing this winter in those bases where we have agreed reduced working time and pay, but this is a better short term outcome than mass job losses.” 


Though he said “there will regrettably be more redundancies at those small number of cabin crew bases, where we have still not secured agreement on working time and pay cuts, which is the only alternative,” he added that the airline will “continue to actively manage our cost base to be prepared for the inevitable rebound and recovery of short haul air travel in Europe once an effective Covid-19 vaccine is developed.”


Michael O’Leary concluded: “In the meantime, we urge all EU Governments to immediately, and fully, adopt the EU Commission’s Traffic Light System, which allows for safe air travel between EU states on a regional basis to continue (without defective travel restrictions) for those countries and regions of Europe, who are able to demonstrate that their Covid case rates are less than 50 per 100,000 population.”


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