Ryanair will increase flights to over 60% of its normal schedule throughout August following what it said on Thursday was a successful resumption of services at 40% of capacity last month following COVID-19 lockdowns.
Europe’s biggest budget airline flew 4.4 million passengers in July, a broadly expected 70% year-on-year fall. It slashed its target for the financial year to March 2021 to 60 million passengers last month, from the 80 million forecast in May.
“Since the resumption of our schedule in late June, passenger numbers have continued to grow,” Eddie Wilson, chief executive of Ryanair’s main airline unit, said in a statement, saying traveller confidence was returning.
Ryanair (RYA.I) flew 4.4 million passengers in July, a broadly expected 70% year-on-year fall after it operated around 40% of its normal July schedule with a 72% load factor, a measure of how well an airline fills its available seats.
Europe’s biggest budget airline returned to a more regular schedule following the COVID-19 lockdown on July 1 when it said it expected to fly more than 4.5 million passengers during the first month back in the sky.
The Irish airline cut its annual passenger target by a quarter last week and warned a second wave of COVID-19 infections could lower that further.
Ryanair has no plans to reduce capacity to Spain after the British government advised against non-essential travel to the country due to COVID-19, a move Group Chief Executive Michael O’Leary called a “badly managed over-reaction”.
Britain on July 25 reimposed a two-week quarantine on travellers arriving from Spain after a surge of coronavirus cases, reversing a decision to drop the requirement on July 10.
“It seems to be a badly managed over-reaction,” O’Leary said on a call with investors in which he said the British government “panicked” instead of focusing on restricting travel to specific regions with high infection rates.
“There is no scientific basis for a national restriction,” O’Leary said.
Asked if Ryanair would reduce capacity between the two countries, Chief Financial Officer Neil Sorahan told Reuters: “We have no plans to cut capacity in the medium term.”
Ryanair had seen a dip in bookings to Spain for the coming 2-3 weeks as a result of the spike in infections, with the dip becoming more pronounced over the weekend as Britain moved to impose the quarantine, O’Leary said.
It was too early, however, to say whether there would be an uptick to alternative destinations.
Ryanair will this week launch a legal challenge against a similar 14-day quarantine introduced by the Irish government, which has only exempted 14 countries, including Greece and Italy but not Spain, the United Kingdom or the United States, O’Leary said.