Today it is indisputable that all economic areas will be profoundly impacted by the coronavirus. The chief of Ryanair announces the airline will not resume flights if it has to keep middle seats empty to fight Covid-19, calling the idea “idiotic”.
Michael O’Leary said he was hopeful 80% of flights could recommence by October if travel restrictions are diminished in July.
But he said empty seat obligation did not ensure safe social distancing and were financially unreasonable.
He added that if the Irish government imposed the rule, it would be obligated to pay himself for the middle seat “or we won’t fly”.
Like the majority of big airlines, Ryanair has grounded flights as countries around Europe have imposed travel restrictions to contain the pandemic.
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Nevertheless, industry experts believe the restrictions will be relaxed this summer, subject to conditions.
Various companies like Emirates, EasyJet, and Delta in the US have all announce they plan to keep middle seats empty and some think governments will make it a rule.
However, Mr. O’Leary told the Financial Times the idea was “idiotic” as it did not ensure a safe 2-meter distance between passengers.
As he declares “We can’t generate money on 66% load factors,”.
He said Europe should instead follow Asia and implement other effective measures, such as forcing people to wear masks on transport and have their temperatures checked at airports.
‘Ryanair Wish Quick recovery’
Many in the airline industry believe it could take over to three years to retrieve the initial situation.
According to the UN’s civil aviation body, ICAO, international air passenger traffic in the first three quarters of 2020 could decrease by as many as 1.2 billion travelers, or by two-thirds.
Meanwhile, Mr. O’Leary told the Financial Times he was optimistic.
He said Ryanair expects a “relatively quick recovery”, with 80% of flights have resumed by September, falling to 60% in its less busy winter season.
He added that subject to an effective coronavirus vaccine, the airline would be carrying its “2019 traffic plus growth” by summer next year.
However, he said it was likely the airline would have to cut jobs this winter and that he would continue to take a 50% pay cut beyond May if necessary.
“My pay cut will run on until the last of [Ryanair] people are off the payroll support schemes,” he said.
Rely on online offers
Meantime, the European Court of Justice ruled on Wednesday that Ryanair and other airlines must in the future indicate the full price of a ticket when displaying offers online.
This means including the cost of value-added tax on domestic flights and fees for check-in and payments by credit card.
The ruling came after an appeal by Ryanair against a decision by the Italian competition and markets authority, which said such charges were inexorable and predictable and should, consequently, be included in the price shown before booking.