Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary said that his airline’s flights will continue to operate during lockdown and customers should therefore not expect refunds.
The outspoken boss of the Irish airline suggested that Government should “feel free” to refund passengers after it changed advice to warn against all but essential international travel over the weekend.
England is set to go into a second national lockdown on Thursday 5 November until 2 December after Boris Johnson warned that hospitals could become overwhelmed without drastic measures to curtail the spread of the virus.
‘There won’t be any refunds’
Despite the Government warning against travelling overseas, Mr O’Leary said: “If the flights are operating there won’t be any refunds although they will be able to avail of our change policy, we allow people to change their flight timings to flights at a later dates if necessary.”
Asked if this was fair on customers, he replied: “It’s only government advice I mean, you know, if the government want to change that advice and the government want to provide refunds to passengers themselves then they can feel free to do so.
“But at the moment you know, we have people who are still travelling on those flights who are travelling for essential and for business reasons and if the flight is operating then there aren’t any refunds.”
Airline ‘expects to record higher losses’
Ryanair said it is preparing for a “hugely challenging” period to continue as it reported a loss of €197m (£178m) in the first half of the year.
The low-cost airline added that it “expects to record higher losses” in the second half of the year, despite having a lower cost base and a stronger balance sheet.
The coronavirus pandemic saw 99 per cent of the carrier’s fleet grounded for almost four months between mid-March and the end of June.
The company said traffic in the first half of the year fell from 86 million to 17 million passengers compared with the same period last year or around 80 per cent.
Its revenue dropped 78 per cent to €1.18bn (£1.06bn), while the loss in this half year contrasts with a profit after tax of €1.15bn (£1.04bn) in the first half of last financial year.
With almost no traffic in the first quarter of the year, the “vast majority” of the first half of the year’s revenue was earned in the second quarter, the firm added.
It said the pandemic, uncertainties over Brexit, airline pricing, fuel costs, competition from new and existing carriers, actions by governments and the willingness of passengers to travel “could significantly impact” its results for the remainder of the year.
It was critical of what it called a “flood of illegal state aid from EU governments” to carriers including Air France and Lufthansa, which it said would “distort competition and allow failed flag carriers to engage in below-cost selling for many years”.
Additional reporting by PA