Ryanair has blamed European governments for “continuous changes” in travel restrictions, as it announces a 20% cut in October capacity.
It follows a further 20% cut announced last month, meaning the airline expects October capacity to fall from 50% to 40% of the levels seen at the same time last year, before the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
But it also said it expected flights to be more than 70% full under the reduced schedule.
Ryanair blamed “damage caused to forward bookings by continuous changes in EU government travel restrictions and policies, many of which are introduced at short notice, which undermine consumers’ willingness to make forward bookings”.
A Ryanair spokesperson said the airline was “disappointed” to have to make the cut but “as customer confidence is damaged by government mismanagement of COVID travel policies, many Ryanair customers are unable to travel for business or urgent family reasons without being subjected to defective 14 day quarantines”.
“While it is too early yet to make final decisions on our winter schedule (from November to March), if current trends and EU governments’ mismanagement of the return of air travel and normal economic activity continue, then similar capacity cuts may be required across the winter period.”
Many countries in the EU along with the UK have brought in 14-day quarantine requirements for travellers returning from certain countries.
The UK government has been criticised for doing this with little notice, meaning a rush of returnees trying to beat the quarantine and the resulting inflated airfares for them to do so within a limited timeframe.
But Ryanair singled out Ireland, blaming the government for maintaining “excessive and defective travel restrictions” since July.
A spokesperson said: “We call on Ireland’s transport minister Eamon Ryan to explain why over two months later he still hasn’t implemented any of the 14 recommendations of the governments Aviation Task Force which were submitted to government on 7 July.
“He should also explain why NPHET (Ireland’s National Public Health Emergency Team) has kept Ireland locked up like North Korea since 1 July, while at the same time Italy and Germany removed all intra-EU travel restrictions and have delivered COVID case rates which are less than half the rate which NPHET has presided over in Ireland.
“Intra-EU air travel is not the problem and these defective travel bans are not a solution.”