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Ryanair to cut 25% of Italian short-haul flights for three-week period in response to Covid-19

The cancellations will occur between Tuesday 17 March and Wednesday 8 April.

Image: Sasko Lazarov via RollingNews.ie

RYANAIR HAS ANNOUNCED that it is cancelling up to 25% of its Italian short-haul flights for a three-week period later this month in response to the Covid-19 coronavirus. 

The cancellations will occur between Tuesday 17 March and Wednesday 8 April. 

In a statement this afternoon, Ryanair said it has seen a “significant drop” in bookings over the late March and early April period as a result of Covid-19. 

There has also been a significant step-up in passenger no-shows on flights, particularly from and within Italy, the airline said. 

Ryanair said it will continue to monitor bookings carefully, and will “continue to flex its schedules in response to the developing situation”. 

All affected customers will be advised of any schedule changes at least 14 days in advance. 

While Italy has so far seen the most widespread outbreak of coronavirus, countries across the EU have reported a growing number of cases.

As things stand, 130 cases have been reported in France, 129 in Germany and 83 in Spain. 

Ireland has advised citizens not to travel to affected areas in northern Italy, but EU officials today said that there was no talk of closing borders in the Schengen area. 

Since 24 February, Ryanair has held a daily Covid-19 action meeting across all areas of the airline. 

It said it is focused on maintaining operational efficiency and cost saving to address the current downturn in business caused by the Covid-19 coronavirus, including:

  • Rolling schedule cuts as booking patterns alter
  • Allocating annual leave and/or unpaid leave to pilots and cabin crew
  • Recruitment and promotion and pay freezes across the network
  • Working with third-party suppliers to cut costs

Ryanair said it is working closely with relevant authorities and is following all guidelines provided by the World Health Organization and the European Aviation Safety Agency to “ensure the health and wellbeing of our people and our customers”. 

“Our focus at this time is on minimising any risk to our people and our passengers. While we are heavily booked over the next two weeks, there has been a notable drop in forward bookings towards the end of March, into early April,” Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary said. 

“It makes sense to selectively prune our schedule to and from those airports where travel has been most affected by the Covid-19 outbreak,” O’Leary said.

“This is a time for calm. We will make sensible cuts to our schedules over the coming weeks to reflect weaker bookings, and changing travel patterns.”

Global cases

Worldwide, about 89,000 people have been infected and over 3,000 people killed since the virus was first detected late last year in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

China yesterday reported a fresh spike in infections, with 573 new cases – the highest figure in a week after a dip. All but three of them were in Hubei province, of which Wuhan is the capital. 

The virus has spread to more than 60 countries around the globe, prompting the World Health Organisation to raise its risk assessment to its highest level.

According to the most extensive study done so far, the novel coronavirus was benign in 80.9% of cases, “serious” in 13.8% and “critical” in 4.7%.

The remaining 0.6% was not specified.

Part of the reason Covid-19 has been declared a public health emergency is due to the speed at which it has spread compared to other coronaviruses (like Sars and Mers) and the fact that there’s a lot about the disease we still don’t know – including how exactly it’s being transmitted.

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