New lockdowns force Ryanair to cut flights

Budget carrier Ryanair is announced major cuts to its flight schedule due to latest surge of Covid-19 cases that lead to new lockdowns. The changes will come in effect from 21 January, BBC reported. All customes affected by the cancellations should receive special emails advising them on free moves or refunds.

Ryanair also cut its full year traffic forecast from currently "below 35 million" to 26-30 million passengers. The airline said that new Covid restrictions could reduce traffic in February and March to as little as 500,000 passengers each month. It expects January traffic to fall below 1,25 million. The company said it expected latest flight cuts and further traffic reductions to materially affect its net loss for the year to 31 March 2021, since many of the flights would have been loss-making.

"The WHO have previously confirmed that governments should do everything possible to avoid brutal lockdowns, because lockdowns 'do not get rid of the virus'," Ryanair said in a statement. "Ireland's Covid-19 travel restrictions are already the most stringent in Europe, and so these new flight restrictions are inexplicable and ineffective when Ireland continues to operate an open border between the Republic and the North of Ireland." It called on the Irish Government to accelerate the rollout of vaccines. "The fact that the Danish Government, with a similar five million population, has already vaccinated 10 times more citizens than Ireland shows that emergency action is needed to speed Covid vaccinations in Ireland."

Rival low-cost carrier Norwegian said its traffic figures had been hit heavily by the pandemic, with customer numbers down 94% compared to the same period the previous year. In December, 129,664 customers flew with Norwegian, with the capacity and total passenger traffic both down by 98%.

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