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Ryanair to resume 40% of its flights from July, as O'Leary calls quarantine for travellers 'unenforceable'

Ryanair’s Eddie Wilson said that leaving the middle seat empty “isn’t based on any scientific evidence”.

Image: Niall Carson/PA Images

Updated May 12th 2020, 10:25 AM

RYANAIR HAS ANNOUNCED a plan to restore 40% of its flight schedule from 1 July, as Ryanair Holdings’ CEO Michael O’Leary called the two-week mandatory quarantine for travellers into the UK “ineffective”, “unenforceable “, and “not based in science”.

The airline said the measure is subject to government restrictions on flights within the EU being lifted and “effective public health measures” being put in place at airports.

Among the measures the airline will introduce, are:

  • Crew and passengers will be required to wear face coverings, and pass temperature checks.
  • Queuing for toilets will be banned, but “toilet access will be made available to individual passengers upon request”.
  • Refreshments will be available to buy on board but will be limited to pre-packaged items, and sales will be cashless.
  • Ryanair said all surfaces in its cabins will be disinfected every night with chemicals which are effective for more than 24 hours.
  • The carrier will require all passengers flying in July and August to complete a form when they check in, stating how long their visit will be and where they are staying. This information will be provided to EU governments to “help them to monitor any isolation regulations they require of visitors on intra-EU flights”.

Since mid-March, Ryanair has operated a skeleton daily schedule of 30 flights per day between the UK, Ireland and the rest of Europe.

This plan would involve nearly 1,000 flights per day being operated and 90% of Ryanair’s pre-Covid-19 route network being restored.

The airline said there will be lower frequencies than normal on its most popular routes as it aims to maximise the number of airports it serves.

Speaking to Sky News, Michael O’Leary said that he believed there would be demand for its services.

We think those flights will be between 50-60% booked, lower than our normal load, but it’s important to get the business moving again and to offer people a holiday before the schools restart in September.

He said that they would be selling the middle seats because “families travelling need to sit together, people with young children need to sit together”.

“We won’t have very high frequency on routes like Dublin-London London-Italy London-Spain. What we’re trying to do is get every route restarted but with lower frequency.”

“We think most of Europe will return to some level of normality” in six weeks’ time, O’Leary said, adding that that would still mean wearing masks, and using hand sanitiser.

He called the British government’s two-week isolation for anyone flying into the UK “ineffective”, “unenforceable and unpolicable”, adding that it has “no science base to it at all”.

Especially when you decide at midnight that you’re going to exempt the French. There’s no argument for allowing people to travel to the UK, if you come from countries outside France you have to isolate for two weeks, but if you come from France, you’re fine.

Ryanair refunds

Ryanair DAC chief executive Eddie Wilson said: “It is important for our customers and our people that we return to some normal schedules from 1 July onwards.

“Governments around Europe have implemented a four-month lockdown to limit the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

After four months, it is time to get Europe flying again so we can reunite friends and families, allow people to return to work and restart Europe’s tourism industry, which provides so many millions of jobs.

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Speaking to RTÉ this morning, Wilson said that leaving the middle seat out of every three empty “isn’t based on any scientific evidence”.

“We will be doing everything we can to do sensible mitigation of risk on board, there will be less moving around in the cabin, less touching of surfaces, the crew and passengers will wear face coverings… These are sensible measures to mitigate risk.”

“Some people will be reticent,” he also admitted.

On refunds and vouchers, Wilson said that Ryanair are still issuing vouchers and refunds, but that it was taking much longer than they had anticipated.

He said that the airline has around 30-40 million passengers a month, and during the pandemic it lost 25-30 million passengers, who will need either a refund or voucher.

But we’ll get there, Wilson added.

The Irish government has advised against all but essential international travel, while domestic holidays (even to a holiday home) are also not allowed.

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