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Ryanair removes flight change fee, says it expects the grounding of most of its fleet in Europe

The airline expects most of its planes to be grounded in 7-10 days.

Image: PA Images

Updated Mar 16th 2020, 1:33 PM

RYANAIR HAS SAID it expects the grounding of most of its aircraft fleet across Europe over the next seven to 10 days, and has now removed its flight change fee.

In a release this morning, CEO Michael O’Leary said the airline was attempting to deal with “extraordinary and unprecedented travel restrictions” imposed by governments across Europe as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak. 

O’Leary said that some of the restrictions were introduced “with minimal or zero notice” but that efforts were being made “to repatriate customers”. 

Countries across European have introduced various flight bans with several European countries suspending flights from Italy.

Poland has suspended all domestic flights and has banned foreign travellers from entering the country. Norway has also shut its airports. 

The Irish government is currently advising against non-essential travel to a range of European countries and there is concern about the ability of Irish holidaymakers in Spain and elsewhere to return home.  

In an updated statement this afternoon, the airline said it expects government restrictions will result in the grounding of most of its fleet across Europe over the next seven to 10 days. 

“Because of this, we want to offer our customers as much flexibility as possible in relation to their scheduled travel plans,” it said.

Ryanair is now offering the following options:

  • Customers can move their flight free of charge to a date in the future.
  • The flight change fee will be waived in full.
  • Customers will still have to pay the difference in fare.
  • This flight date change will only apply to the route customers have already booked.
  • Ryanair advises customers not to try to change to another date in April.

In this morning’s statement, Ryanair named 13 European countries that have introduced travel restrictions and said the decisions have had “a significant and negative impact” on the airline’s schedules. 

The airline said the impact will mean an 80% reduction in its seat capacity over April and May, effectively cancelling 80% of its planned flights. 

The airline said it would be engaging in a range of cost-cutting measures including the “temporary suspension of employment contracts” and “significant reductions to working hours and payments”. 

Aer Lingus’ owner IAG has also said it would be introducing cost cutting measures and this included “grounding surplus aircraft” and “reducing working hours”. 

“We are doing everything we can to meet the challenge posed by the Covid-19 outbreak, which has over the last week caused extraordinary and unprecedented travel restrictions to be imposed by national governments, in many cases with minimal or zero notice. ” O’Leary said. 

We are communicating with all affected passengers by email and SMS, and we are organising rescue flights to repatriate customers, even in those countries where travel bans have been imposed. 

“Our priority remains the health and welfare of our people and our passengers, and we are doing everything we can to ensure that they can be reunited with their friends and families during these difficult times.”

- With reporting by Michelle Hennessy.

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Rónán Duffy

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