Budget airlines Ryanair and EasyJet have both made cuts to their forthcoming flight schedules in response to the latest Covid-19 lockdowns.
This morning, Ryanair briefed the markets that it expects lockdowns in Ireland, the UK, and several other EU countries this week will materially reduce its flight schedules and traffic forecast for the next three months.
The company now expects its January traffic to fall to under 1.25 million passengers, with Covid restrictions potentially reducing February and March traffic to as little as 500,000 passengers each month.
In response, Ryanair will significantly cut its flight schedules from 21 January, which will result in few, if any, flights being operated to or from Ireland or the UK “until such time as these draconian travel restrictions are removed”.
The cutbacks will reduce full year traffic forecast from currently below 35 million to between 26 million and 30 million passengers.
Ryanair does not expect these flight cuts and further traffic reductions to materially affect its net loss for the year to 31 March 2021, since many of these flights would have been loss making anyway.
A spokesperson for Ryanair said: “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.
“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 5 million population, has already vaccinated 10 times more citizens than Ireland shows that emergency action is needed to speed Covid vaccinations in Ireland.”
EasyJet is reducing its flying programme, but would maintain “essential connectivity between key cities in the UK”.
This means it will continue to operate domestic services to and from Scotland with London, Bristol, Birmingham, Liverpool, Newcastle and Belfast, along with a small number of international routes.
“We will be operating flights up to and including 10 January focused on repatriating any customers who need to return to the UK,” read a statement. “We urge customers needing to return to transfer onto these flights as soon as possible as options to travel after this date will be reduced.”
EasyJet also made a plea to the government to speed up support.
“Given the ongoing impact of the pandemic on travel, we continue to call for sector specific support such as has been provided to hospitality, where decisions have directly affected their ability to trade. The same principle should be applied to aviation.”
However, Jet2 today announced 32 new destinations flying from Edinburgh airport next summer.
Three new Greek routes to Skiathos, Santorini and Preveza have been added for summer 2022, each with a weekly service. Weekly services to Izmir, Naples and Thessaloniki are also on offer.
A range of flights to popular destinations such as the Canaries, Balearics, Spain, Greece, Turkey and Portugal will also be available to those planning for that long-awaited summer holiday.
Gordon Dewar, chief executive of Edinburgh Airport, said: “If all things go to plan with the vaccine, something we hope happens, then we know people will be incredibly excited to get away at the earliest opportunity and enjoy some sun and have that holiday they have been longing for.”
Steve Heapy, chief executive of Jet2.com and Jet2holidays, said: “After much uncertainty, the positive news about a vaccine coupled with a real desire to get away, means we are seeing strong demand from holidaymakers wanting to plan and book future holidays.”