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UPDATE 2-Ryanair cuts capacity further, citing travel restrictions

Fri, 18th Sep 2020 10:32

* Cuts October capacity plans by 20%

* Further winter cuts possible

* Calls for pan-EU COVID-19 plan
(Adds detail and share price)

By Conor Humphries

DUBLIN, Sept 18 (Reuters) - Ryanair has been forced
to cut its capacity in October by a further 20% and may have to
do the same for the rest of the winter unless European Union
governments ease their COVID-19 travel restrictions, it said on
Friday.

The budget airline, whose Group Chief Executive Michael
O'Leary last week described the winter as a "write-off", said it
would fly about 40% of the capacity it flew last October, down
from a previous target of 50%.

"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,"
a Ryanair spokeswoman said in a statement.

Ryanair's share price fell 4.5% by 0940 GMT.

The capacity reductions, it said, were required because of
"damage caused to forward bookings by continuous changes in EU
government travel restrictions and policies, many of which are
introduced at short notice".

It called for a proposed coordinated EU system of
restrictions to be implemented immediately.

Airlines across Europe have blamed an uneven patchwork of
travel restrictions and quarantine rules for a stop-go recovery
that has proven tougher than many expected.

Ahead of the latest cuts, O'Leary last week said that he
expected to fly about 50 million passengers in the financial
year to March, one third of the previous year's volume. It did
not provide an updated forecast.

The airline operated capacity of about 67 million seats last
winter and a 60% cut would leave its capacity around 27 million
in the final six months of the current financial year, which
ends on March 31.

Ryanair flew about 12 million passengers in the first five
months of the current financial year and has yet to release data
for September.

The Ryanair statement said it expects fewer than 30% empty
seats on its October flights after the capacity cut, against an
average of 6% empty seats on flights last winter.
(Reporting by Conor Humphries
Editing by Mark Potter and David Goodman
)

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