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Ryanair to Slash Capacity by a Further 20% After Second Wave Fears Lead to Weak Demand

Ryanair to Slash Capacity by a Further 20% After Second Wave Fears Lead to Weak Demand

Ryanair will trim capacity by a further 20 per cent in September and October after experiencing a slump in forward bookings and weaker than expected demand. Europe’s largest budget airline said a surge in COVID-19 cases in some countries was causing continuing uncertainty for passengers faced with rapidly changing travel restrictions and the risk of facing a 14-day quarantine with little or no time to prepare.

The airline is currently operating at around 60 per cent capacity in August and was planning to increase that to 70 per cent for both September and October. Now, Ryanair says it will reduce capacity back down to around half of pre-COVID levels after forward bookings trailed off over the last 10 days.

Rather than axing routes altogether, Ryanair said it would trim capacity by cutting frequencies. Cuts would be focused on routes to and from Spain, France and Sweden, where rising COVID-19 cases have led to a slew of travel restrictions being imposed in recent days.

Taking a swipe at the Irish government, Ryanair also said it would cut capacity to Ireland over Dublin’s “uniquely restrictive Green List” that imposes quarantine on travellers with a lower case rate than that of Ireland.

Last month, Ryanair reported a €185 million loss for the first quarter of 2020 after grounding its fleet because of Coronavirus lockdowns. The airline had been hoping to rapidly rebuild its schedule but admitted that the rest of the year would be “very challenging” and said a second wave of COVID-19 was its biggest fear.

Other airlines, including Finnair and Air France, have already pulled back planned capacity increases because of lingering travel restrictions.

Hitting out at ever-changing restrictions, Ryanair again called on national governments to introduce pre-departure testing to effectively avoid quarantine restrictions. The airline said such schemes were already being successfully run in Germany and Italy, and called for aEurope-wide policy to help restart travel.

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