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Ryanair Eyes Job Losses if Flights Don’t Resume by End of May

Ryanair Eyes Job Losses if Flights Don’t Resume by End of May

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The boss of Ryanair has warned of impending job losses if the airline doesn’t resume a substantial amount of its schedule by the end of May. Michael O’Leary made the warning on Friday just days after threatening to keep Ryanair’s planes grounded if social distancing rules such as keeping the middle seat empty were made mandatory.

While O’Leary said he “assumes” the vast majority of the Ryanair’s fleet will remain grounded over the next five weeks, he believes there will be a “limited” resumption of some flights in June which would hopefully stave off the need for redundancies.

“We’ve kept almost everybody in employment at the moment, with the benefit thankfully of the various payroll support schemes,” the Irish chief airline executive told Sky News. “We’re topping it up (wages) where we can. So we are ready to come back pretty quickly,” he continued.

But while O’Leary has committed to keeping all of his employees on the payroll for both April and May, he warned: “If it continues beyond that, I think we would have to look at some job losses.”

Late last year, O’Leary had warned of thousands of job cuts because of delays in receiving deliveries of Boeing’s troubled 737MAX airliner – a debacle that is dwarfed by the current COVID-19 crisis.

But even once flights do eventually resume, there are concerns that Ryanair’s business model could itself be made redundant by social distancing measures. O’Leary said his airline simply wouldn’t be able to make money off of 66 per cent load factors – the maximum achievable when the middle seat is blocked.

Ryanair has already lobbied the Irish government to stop such measures being put in place, with O’Leary describing the suggestion as “idiotic”.

Adina Valean, the European Commission’s transport chief, however, suggests some form of in-flight social distancing will be introduced on a pan-European level once flying restrictions start to ease. What form the social distancing will look like, though, won’t be known until mid-May when the EU releases a first set of guidelines.

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