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Ryanair to close its Cork and Shannon bases for the winter

Michael O’Leary said the cuts to its bases had been “forced upon us by government mismanagement of EU air travel”.

File photo. Ryanair Group CEO Michael O'Leary
File photo. Ryanair Group CEO Michael O'Leary
Image: Jonathan Brady/PA Images

RYANAIR HAS SAID it will reduce its capacity from 60% down to 40% for the winter months, which will include closing its Cork and Shannon bases. 

Group CEO Michael O’Leary said that while he “deeply regretted” these cuts, they have been “forced upon us by government mismanagement of EU air travel”. 

Restrictions on flights introduced by governments across Europe will mean curtailments to air travel to and from much of central Europe, the UK, Ireland, Austria, Belgium and Portugal, the airline said.

As well as Cork and Shannon, it’s also closing its Toulouse base and cut aircraft in bases in Belgium, Germany, Spain, Portugal and Vienna.

The airline said it still expects to fill 70% of seats on its planes, despite the curtailments, and expects full year traffic to fall to approximately 38 million people.

Ryanair has been consistently critical of the Irish government for its handling of air travel during the Covid-19 crisis.

The so-called Green List – countries where people can travel to and from without facing requirements to restrict movements when they return to Ireland – now has no countries on it. 

The EU agreed a new traffic light system for air travel earlier this week and Ireland has indicated its willingness to participate in the system. 

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Today’s news will come as a blow to Cork and Shannon, following on from a warning from Ryanair last month that such a situation was being considered.

O’Leary said: “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.

The Ryanair group CEO also urged EU governments to adopt the traffic light system as soon as possible. 

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Sean Murray

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