Ryanair to cut Winter 2020/2021 capacity from 60% to 40% of prior year; to close several bases for Winter


© Bart Noëth

Ryanair today released its revised winter schedule. Due to increased flight restrictions imposed by European Union Governments, air travel to/from much of Central Europe, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Austria, Belgium and Portugal have been heavily curtailed. This has caused forward bookings to weaken slightly in October, but materially in November & December.

In light of these weaker bookings, and Ryanair’s plan to operate with a 70% load factors, Ryanair has today further reduced its winter schedule (November 2020 – March 2021) taking capacity down from 60% to 40% of prior year. Ryanair expects to maintain up to 65% of its winter route network, but with reduced frequencies. In addition to the winter closure of bases in Cork, Shannon, and Toulouse, Ryanair has announced significant base aircraft cuts in Belgium, Germany, Spain, Portugal and Vienna.

With this greatly reduced winter capacity and load factors of approx. 70%, Ryanair now expects full year (FY21) traffic to fall to approx. 38 million guests, although this guidance could be further revised downwards if European Union Governments continue to mismanage air travel and impose more lock-downs this winter.

Ryanair’s Group CEO Michael O’Leary said:

“We have continued to flex our capacity in Sept & Oct to reflect both market conditions and changing Government restrictions, with the objective of sustaining a 70% load factor, which allows us operate as close to breakeven as possible and minimise cash burn. While the Covid situation remains fluid and hard to predict, we must now cut our full year traffic forecast to 38m guests. 

While we deeply regret these winter schedule cuts they have been forced upon us by Government mismanagement of EU air travel. Our focus continues to be on maintaining as large a schedule as we can sensibly operate to keep our aircraft, our pilots and our cabin crew current and employed while minimising job losses. It is inevitable, given the scale of these cutbacks, that we will be implementing  more unpaid leave, and job sharing this winter in those bases where we have agreed reduced working time and pay, but this is a better short term outcome than mass job losses. There will regrettably be more redundancies at those small number of cabin crew bases, where we have still not secured agreement on working time and pay cuts, which is the only alternative. We continue to actively manage our cost base to be prepared for the inevitable rebound and recovery of short haul air travel in Europe once an effective Covid-19 vaccine is developed.

In the meantime, we urge all EU Governments to immediately, and fully, adopt the EU Commission’s Traffic Light System, which allows for safe air travel between EU states on a regional basis to continue (without defective travel restrictions) for those countries and regions of Europe, who are able to demonstrate that their Covid case rates are less than 50 per 100,000 population.”

Bart Noëth: Since 1996, I have been working in the Belgian airline industry, from a weekend job as a cabin aircraft cleaner to a flight attendant. After the demise of Sabena - in 2001, I created a website called www.luchtzak.be, originally a meeting place for plane spotters and aviation freaks. Since 2017, the website changed into a professional news site. Next to aviation, I love to travel, wine and dine and enjoy my time off(-line) with my girlfriend, friends and family. My favourite football squad is KV Mechelen, I am an Ironman 70.3 finisher and my ambition is to complete a full Ironman.
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