Ryanair has announced a reduced flying programme due to the ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak, with most of the affected operations being to and from Italy.
Between 17 March and 8 April, the airline has announced that it will reduce capacity by about 25 per cent.
Ryanair has seen a significant drop in bookings over that late March/early April period, in response to the virus. There has also been a significant step up in passenger no-shows on flights, particularly from and within Italy.
Ryanair Group CEO, Michael O’Leary, has said that the focus currently is to minimise the risk to airline staff and 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 and into early April. It makes sense to selectively prune our schedule to and from those airports where travel has been most affected by the Covid-19 outbreak.”
Ryanair does not expect these cancellations to have a material impact on the current year (end March 2020) guidance.
In related news, IATA has also requested that the rules governing the use of airport slots be suspended immediately and for the 2020 season, due to the impact of the virus.
Around 43 per cent of all passengers depart from over 200 slot coordinated airports worldwide.
At present, the rules for slot allocation mean that airlines must operate at least 80 per cent of their allocated slots under normal circumstances. Failure to comply with this means the airline loses its right to the slot the next equivalent season. In exceptional circumstances, regulators can relax this requirement.
Regulators have already been waiving the slot rules on a rolling basis during the outbreak primarily for operations to China and Hong Kong.
According to IATA, several carriers have reported significant no-shows across several markets.
Visit iata.org for more information.