Ryanair has grounded all flights until July - and 3,000 jobs will be lost
Many plans have gone awry this year due to the coronavirus outbreak, resulting in thousands of holidaymakers facing cancellations.
For those hoping to take to the skies with Ryanair any time soon, there is still a while to wait, as the airline has now announced that all flights will be grounded until July.
When will flights resume?
Ryanair said all of its flights will remain grounded until “at least July”, with passenger numbers not expected to return to normal levels “until summer 2022 at the earliest”.
The airline is also expecting to operate fewer than one per cent of its scheduled flights between April and June, carrying no more than half of its original passenger target of 44.6 million between July and September.
For the 12 months to the end of March 2021, it is forecast to carry fewer than 100 million passengers - significantly less than its target of 154 million.
Ryanair said it is currently in "active negotiations" with Boeing to cut the number of planned aircraft deliveries over the next 24 months, and expects to report a net loss of more than £87 million between April and May, with "further losses" in the following three months.
In a statement, the airline said, "Ryanair entered this unprecedented Covid-19 crisis with almost 4 billion euros (£3.5 billion) in cash, and we continue to actively manage these cash resources to ensure that we can survive this Covid-19 pandemic, and more importantly the return to lower fare flight schedules as soon as possible.
"Our customers can look forward to more low air fares as we are forced to compete with flag carrier airlines who have received 30 billion euros (£26.2 billion) in state aid 'doping' to allow them to sustain below-cost selling for months after this Covid-19 crisis has passed, as it certainly will over the coming months."
How many jobs will be lost?
The budget airline announced that up to 3,000 jobs are to be cut across pilots and cabin crew, and a restructuring programme could also involve unpaid leave and wage cuts of up to 20 per cent.
Ryanair also warned of the closure of “a number of aircraft bases across Europe” until demand for air travel recovers.
Chief executive Michael O'Leary, whose pay was cut by 50 per cent in April and May, has agreed to extend the reduction for the remainder of the financial year to March 2021.
Brian Strutton, general secretary of pilots' union Balpa, said, "There has been no warning or consultation by Ryanair about the 3,000 potential job losses and this is miserable news for pilots and staff who have taken pay cuts under the Government job retention scheme.
"Ryanair seems to have done a U-turn on its ability to weather the Covid storm. Aviation workers are now facing a tsunami of job losses.
“The UK Government has to stop daydreaming and keep to the promise made by the Chancellor on 17 March to help airlines, or this industry - vital to the UK economy - will be devastated."
What if my flight has been cancelled?
Ryanair has said that customers faced with cancelled flights may have to wait up to six months for a cash refund, as it struggles to process a huge backlog of requests.
The airline said it will have all the March refunds completed “within a month or two”, and the April refunds “within two or three months”.
Those waiting for a refund from cancelled flights in May could be waiting between three and six months.
Despite the delays, Ryanair stressed that “every customer will receive a cash refund if they want it”.