By Andrew Atkinson
Ryanair are in discussions with Spanish airports hoping to pick up on extra flights from those airlines that have folded and gone into administration in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Somebody has to step up and take that capacity”, said Ryanair’s Chief executive Michael O’Leary.
Norwegian Air went into administration in November with Ryanair eyeing filling in slots in 2021, at a time when airlines are facing a major crisis, ignited by COVID-19.
Thomas Cook and Flybe are among other airlines that have collapsed during the coronavirus pandemic.
“I have never in my 30 years in the industry seen such a clean-out,” O’Leary told the Financial Times.
“The real seismic change from Covid will be the growth opportunities across Europe. They are much greater than after the financial crisis or 9/11,” he said.
“The question is which airports are most commercial about re-growing their traffic quickly in summer 2021,” he said.
Following easyJet announcing the closure of its base at London Stanstead, Ryanair have filled 300 of easyJet’s weekly slots at the airport for summer 2021.
Ryanair suffered a net loss of €197m for the six months to September, with losses in the second half of its financial year expected to be even higher.
The latest airlines bombshells came with the new coronavirus strain, that led to flight cancellations at Christmas.
Countries, including Spain, closed their borders to the UK over concerns of a new strain of the virus.
One Covid protocol now is that passengers are only allowed to enter Spain, if they are Nationals or Residents of the country. Non-residents are not allowed.
“It is a huge disappointment in not being able to fly to Alicante-Elche airport from the UK,” Val Breedon, who has a property in Los Montesinos told The Leader.
“We have rebooked our flight for March 2021 and hopefully we can get back to Spain then, fingers crossed,” she added.
Ryanair has confirmed a discounted order for Boeing’s troubled 737 Max aircraft, which will cut its costs further when it begins taking deliveries from early 2021.
Ryanair and other commercial airlines dependency lies in the speed of COVID-19 vaccines by governments.
“Ultimately they will throw so much money at the vaccine they will get there fairly quickly,” O’Leary said of the UK Government.
“We have consistently been planning for a reasonably quick recovery and constantly disappointed – what has changed is the arrival of the vaccines,” said O’Leary.
“The issue for our industry is: ‘Will the recovery be in May or August? We just don’t know’,” he added.