Ryanair, similarly to most other airlines, resumed services in July. It had increased flights to 60% of its normal schedule this month, with the intention to operate at 70% in September.
However, that seemed rather optimistic and as it turns out, it won’t happen after all. EasyJet’s figure of 40% for the quarter of July to September felt a better prediction of likely demand.
There is still a lot of uncertainty, and recent COVID case rates have led to the UK and Ireland reintroducing travel restrictions regarding some EU countries.
As a result, Ryanair has announced that it would cut capacity by 20% in the next 2 months. There will be cuts mostly in flight numbers as opposed to route closures. Cuts will be “heavily focused” on those countries, which the UK and Ireland have restricted.
The UK has reimposed 14-day quarantines on people arriving from France, Spain, Malta, the Netherlands and Sweden. Similarly, Ireland obliges travellers from Germany and the UK to self-isolate for 2 weeks on entering.
These capacity cuts and frequency reductions planned for the months of September and October 2020 are inevitable since there has been a notably weakened demand recently. This is mainly due to coronavirus restrictions in many European countries.
Of course, all passengers who have already made bookings for Ryanair flights will be notified in advance.
What’s more, the low-cost airline fears “severe cuts” to its winter flights to Portugal too. However, with the rapidly changing situation, it is impossible to make any predictions right now. What is certain is that Ryanair and other airlines will have much fewer flights than they did last winter.
Ryanair is yet to determine where more cuts will be made. For now, it’s clear it plans to cut significantly fewer jobs than initially estimated. This is possible only because most of its pilots and cabin crew agreed to pay cuts.
The budget airline first said it would have to release about 3,000 Ryanair employees because of the coronavirus pandemic, which grounded flights for many months and is still impeding them.
Many airlines have a similar plan. EasyJet might lose 4,500 people from its staff if they don’t accept options like unpaid leave and part-time contracts.
British Airways is making more than 10,000 employees redundant.
Fortunately, Ryanair has now revised down its estimate of job losses. The new number is not clear yet but it is significantly lower after 97% of pilots and more than 90% of cabin crew agreed to some changes and pay cuts.
In Germany, however, German pilots rejected pay cuts, and thus Ryanair will shut its base at Frankfurt Hahn airport.
The number of further redundancies will depend on winter bookings and disruptions in travel next year as well.
Meanwhile, it has become clear that EasyJet will close bases at Stansted, Southend and Newcastle. This means the loss of 670 jobs. There could be up to around 1,200 further UK job losses and even more in Europe overall as the airline plans more cuts to cope with the pandemic.
British Airways, Emirates and more airlines are in a similar position. Many employees have already volunteered for redundancy.
The coronavirus lockdowns and travel restrictions have been a hard blow for the aviation industry. There have been fewer tourists and business travellers than ever. And it’s far from over.
Even if people are ready to go back on planes, coronavirus rates are still oscillating, causing the return of travel bans and restrictions and the cancellation of flights.
According to Ryanair, there have been fewer forward bookings in the last 10 days. All airlines are vulnerable right now, and even next week is unpredictable. That’s what led to the decision of many airlines, among which Ryanair, to cut flights again.
However, so far it seems that Ryanair, easyJet, Wizz Air and the like are strong enough financially to get through the crisis. Let’s hope it will end soon enough.