Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary has announced that the budget airline will be cutting all commercial flights until at least June. Following the decision to ground all flight from March 24, the Irish-based carrier announced the move would last for the duration of April and May.
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The news came following the decision by the British government to enforce a stringent lockdown across the UK, imploring the nation to stay at home unless absolutely vital.
Though may airlines continue to operate “rescue flights” to bring Britons home, Ryanair is just the latest in a series of British carriers to put a halt to their usual service.
In a statement, Mr O’Leary explained: “Over the past few days, the spread of the Covid-19 Virus has transformed the lives of people all over Europe and the World.
“Across Europe, Governments have imposed unprecedented restrictions on citizen movement, starting with flight bans which have closed Europe’s skies to all but a tiny number of repatriation/rescue flights.
“We apologise sincerely for these disruptions which were necessary, and unavoidable, to help EU Governments limit the spread of Covid-19 to protect our citizens.”
Though the airline will continue to operate essential flights “for the movement of vital medicines, personal protective equipment, and if necessary, emergency food supplies” as well as those dedicated to bringing people home, the carrier will no longer be jetting Britons off on holidays.
Mr O’Leary explained that there is a protocol in place to help protect passengers who are faced with cancellations.
He said: “Any passenger whose flight has been cancelled as a result of these Government shutdowns, will over the next week or two, receive an email outlining their options.
“At the same time as we are dealing with unprecedented numbers of flight bans, we have had to reduce office staff by 50 percent for social distancing reasons and we ask customers to be patient and bear with us; you will receive email communications in due course.
“Please do not call our phone lines as the reduced staffing will be unable to accommodate anything but the most urgent of cases, which over the coming days, will be rescue flights.”
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When can Britons fly again?
Little is known for sure about how long the coronavirus outbreak and subsequent lockdown measures will last.
Countries around the world have varying levels of national and border lockdowns in place.
In the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson suggests that the initial stringent measures will last for three weeks, though this could be lengthened if evidence does not show it to be working.
Mr Johnson said the measures will be “under constant review” and will be considered for relaxation in three weeks if the evidence allows.
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Meanwhile, the FCO is urging Britons to avoid all but essential travel outside the UK for a period of 30 days.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: ““The FCO will always take into consideration the safety of British nationals so with immediate effect I’ve taken the decision to advise British Nationals against non-essential travel globally for a period of 30 days and of course subject to ongoing review.
“I should emphasise this decision is being taken based on the domestic measures being introduced into the UK alongside the border and a range of other restrictions which are being taken by countries right around the world.
“The speed and the range of these measures across other countries is unprecedented some of those decisions are being made without notice.”
The Ryanair CEO has assured Britons that they will fly again.
“At this time, no one knows how long this Covid shutdown will last,” said Mr O’Leary.
“The experience in China suggests a 3-month period for the spread of the virus to be contained and reduced. We do not expect to operate flights during the months of April and May at this time, but this will clearly depend upon Government advice, and we will in all cases comply with these instructions.
While the immediate future is uncertain, it is important to remember that, like all pandemics, this crisis will pass.
“Our Governments and health agencies are taking unprecedented action, but they require our support, so by working together we can all help to eliminate Covid-19 and allow our lives to return to normality. In Ryanair, Buzz, Lauda, and Malta Air, we will do everything we can to keep our aircraft, our crews, and our engineering teams operational so that when Europe defeats this Covid-19 pandemic, we are ready to return to flying, to allow Europe’s citizens to go back to work, to visit friends/family, and to rebuild Europe’s tourism industry, upon which so many millions of jobs and families depend. Rest assured that we and the 18,000 aviation professionals in the Ryanair Group of Airlines will do everything we can to support our Governments, our people, and our customers during these unprecedented times.”
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