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31 July, 2021 - 23:52 By Tony Quested

O’Leary predicts Ryanair domination post-Covid

Irish airline Ryanair, which underpins traffic at Stansted Airport, reports a late summer surge for international flights following lifting of the latest Covid restrictions. It provides some solace to the airline after a disastrous start to the year caused by Covid lockdowns.

The company suffered a Q1 loss of €273 million, compared to a PY Q1 loss of €185m. 

CEO Michael O’Leary – a fierce critic of the Government’s Covid policies affecting travel, remains bitter about the situation.

He said: “Covid-19 continued to wreak havoc on our business during Q1 with most Easter flights cancelled and a slower than expected easing of EU Govt. travel restrictions into May and June. 

“Significant uncertainty around travel green lists (particularly in the UK) and extreme government caution in Ireland meant that Q1 bookings were close-in and at low fares. 

“We kept aircraft and crews current throughout the quarter and recruited additional cabin crew to enable us recover quickly in Q2 as Covid restrictions ease.

“The 1st July rollout of EU Digital Covid Certificates and the scrapping of quarantine for vaccinated arrivals to the UK from mid-July has seen a surge in bookings over recent weeks.

“Pricing remains below pre Covid-19 levels and there will continue to be great value for Ryanair guests travelling this summer as we focus on recovering traffic, jobs and tourism across our European network.

“Based on current (close-in) bookings, we expect traffic to rise from over 5m in June to almost 9m in July, and over 10m in August as long as there are no further Covid setbacks in Europe. We will continue our load active/yield passive strategy as we recover load factors over the course of FY22.”

O’Leary said the Covid-related collapse of competitors would enable Ryanair to emerge the dominant force post-crisis.

He said: “We expect intra-European capacity to be materially lower for the foreseeable future. This will create growth opportunities for Ryanair to extend airport incentives as the group takes delivery of 210 new Boeing 737 Gamechanger aircraft.

“We are encouraged by the high rate of vaccinations across Europe. If, as is presently predicted, most of Europe’s adult population is fully vaccinated by September then we believe that we can look forward to a strong recovery in air travel for the second half of the fiscal year and well into the future – as is presently the case in domestic US air travel.”

• PHOTOGRAPH: Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary. Image courtesy – World Travel & Tourism Council

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