Ryanair (RYA.L) will “significantly cut its flight schedules” from Thursday 21 Jan in response to new UK COVID-19 restrictions, the company announced.
The budget airline said that the “newly announced lockdowns in Ireland, the UK, and a small number of other EU countries this week, will materially reduce its flight schedules and traffic forecast through January, February and March.”
Ryanair is expecting to carry fewer that 1.25 million passengers in January and said that that new restrictions could reduce passenger numbers to as little as 500,000 each month in February and March.
The new cutbacks will reduce the company’s full year traffic forecast from its current forecast of below 35 million to between 26 million and 30 million passengers.
WATCH: Government looking into further restrictions on international travel
Europe’s biggest airline said the schedule cuts will mean “few, if any, flights being operated to/from Ireland or the UK from the end of Jan until such time as these draconian travel restrictions are removed.”
Since many of the cancelled flights would have been loss making due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on travel, Ryanair said it does not expect the flight cuts and further traffic reductions to “materially affect its net loss for the year to 31 March 2021.”
Shares were down 1.21% at the market open on Thursday.
Ryanair is calling on the Irish and UK governments to “accelerate the slow pace of vaccine rollouts” to help tackle the spread of the coronavirus and avoid further lockdowns.
The Irish airline is specifically calling on the Irish government to take more rapid action.
A spokesperson for Ryanair said: “The WHO have previously confirmed that governments should do everything possible to avoid brutal lockdowns, because lockdowns “do not get rid of the virus.”
Ireland's COVID-19 travel restrictions are already the most stringent in Europe, and so these new flight restrictions are inexplicable and ineffective when Ireland continues to operate an open border between the Republic and the North of Ireland. Since Ireland's third lockdown will not get rid of the COVID virus, there is an onus on the Irish government to accelerate the rollout of vaccines, and the fact that the Danish government, with a similar 5 million population, has already vaccinated 10 times more citizens than Ireland shows that emergency action is needed to speed COVID vaccinations in Ireland.
READ MORE: The most sought after jobs in the UK
“NPHET (Ireland's Public Health Team), which we believe has mismanaged many aspects of Ireland's COVID response (face masks, test & trace, international travel, care homes and meat factories), should now release a daily report of the number of vaccines administered in Ireland, and explain why they continue to run behind the vaccination rates of other similar sized EU countries.
“Vaccinations rather than lockdowns is the way out of this COVID-19 crisis, and the sooner NPHET takes action to accelerate Ireland's vaccine rollout speed, the better.”
WATCH: Should I book a holiday in 2021?