Ryanair: Recovery in air travel

An article in the Financial Times has reported that Ryanair will not return to flying if middle-seats must be kept empty. The low-cost airline have warned that it would not return too flying if the government insisted that planes leave their middle seat empty when travel restrictions are lifted following the coronavirus pandemic in the United Kingdom.

The airlines outspoken chief executive, Michael O’Leary gave a bullish outlook for a recovery in air travel, suggesting plans for the airline would resume 80% of slights by September provided that flying in Europe could restart form early July.

Ryanair plan to resume 40 per cent of its flights if travel is resumed in July, these planes would be 50-60% full. They will then increase capacity to 60 % in August followed by 80% the following month.

Speaking exclusively to The Financial Times, Mr O’Leary explained all of these plans would be thwarted if there were “some entirely ineffective social distancing measures, such as having middle seats empty”.

O’Leary has advised that that the idea of leaving the middle seat empty doesn’t deliver adequate social distancing measures so therefore does not achieve anything anyway. In the meantime, several airlines including Emirates and Delta Air Lines have said that they would be blocking out the middle seats on their flights.

Although several airlines have agreed to seating passengers apart Mr O’Leary said he believed that Europe should follow Asia and introduce more sensible measures, such as mandatory mask wearing on public transport and temperature check at train stations and airports.

Mr O’Leary said he was hopeful that, subject to an effective coronavirus vaccine, there would be a return to more normal traffic levels in the summer of 2021 which would also be driven by the collapse of rival airlines that do not make it through the pandemic.