Ryanair cuts capacity as rise in Covid-19 cases hits bookings

The company is reducing the number of flights to Spain, France and Sweden where tighter travel restrictions have been imposed to curb the spread of the virus

(FILES) In this file photo taken on March 23, 2020 a Ryanair passenger jet is seen on the tarmac at Dublin airport. Ryanair will cut by its September and October timetable by "20 percent" on weaker-than-expected demand following renewed travel restrictions in some European countries, the no-frills Irish airline said Monday, August 17. / AFP / Paul Faith
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Ryanair, Europe’s largest airline, plans to cut capacity by 20 per cent in September and October as a surge in Covid-19 cases dents bookings.

The low-cost carrier said on Monday that most of the reductions would come from trimming the frequency of flights, rather than route closures. Ryanair said the cuts would be focused on flights serving countries such as Spain, France and Sweden, where a rise in coronavirus cases has triggered tighter travel restrictions.

The airline said in a statement that the curbs were “unavoidable given the recent weakness in forward bookings due to Covid restrictions in a number of EU countries.’’

Affected passengers will receive emails advising them of their options.

Dublin-based Ryanair also called on Ireland to ease restrictions on travel from countries where Covid-19 infection rates are lower than in Ireland. Travellers from countries like Germany and the UK are required to quarantine for two weeks, even though Ireland has a higher infection rate.

Meanwhile, British rival easyJet said it would move ahead with plans to close its bases at Stansted, Southend and Newcastle airports in England after consulting with unions.

The airline said all flights to and from Southend would be cancelled beginning on September 1. EasyJet said it will continue to serve Stansted and Newcastle from other hubs, but some flights to and from the airports will be cancelled.

EasyJet said in June that 1,900 jobs were at risk, but consultations continue and the overall number is likely to be lower. Of those at risk positions, some 670 pilot and crew jobs are located at the three bases whose closure was confirmed Monday.