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Ryanair slashes January flights as Omicron impacts bookings

Emma Lunn
Written By:
Emma Lunn

The budget airline has slashed its capacity for January by a third and warned that annual losses will be more than double the level of those previously forecast.

In a statement examining the financial impact of the Omicron Covid variant, the airline’s board announced that it was lowering its full year guidance from a previous net loss range of between €100m to €200m, to a range of €250m to €450m.

Ryanair said the Omicron variant and recent government travel restrictions across Europe have notably weakened Christmas and New Year bookings. This sudden downturn has prompted Ryanair to cut its planned January schedule capacity by 33%.

No schedule cutbacks have been decided for February or March 2022 – but these schedules will be revisited in January.

The impact of government travel restrictions across the world, in particular last weekend’s ban on UK arrivals into France and Germany, and the suspension of all EU flights to and from Morocco has lowered Ryanair’s expected December traffic from between 10 million and 11 million, to a lower range of between 9 and 9.5 million.

The downbeat predictions from Ryanair come as Unite called for more help for the travel sector. The union said that the government is again failing to support the sector at this critical time of further Covid restrictions. It called for chancellor Rishi Sunak to act to help aviation and aerospace through the uncertainty generated by the Omicron variant.

The union, which represents tens of thousands of workers in the sector, said aviation had been ‘abandoned’ when it came to government understanding of the realities of the aviation sector and the lack of support since the pandemic began.

Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary, said: “Throughout the pandemic ministers have repeatedly failed to provide the support needed for an industry and workforce that are central to our economy.

“Jobs have been lost, pay and conditions cut and the future of world class UK aviation put at risk because the government has failed to provide the sector-specific support needed. Time and again, aviation workers have been abandoned by this government and left to pay the price. It is simply not good enough.”