Passengers will be asked to wear face masks on Ryanair flights potentially until 2022, Michael O'Leary has said, as he announced a return to a more normal summer schedule.
The budget airline plans to run more than 2,300 flights every week during the summer this year, Mr O’Leary said.
The schedule will mean that Ryanair is running at about 80 per cent of its usual capacity, with British people desperate to get back to European beaches, according to the chief executive.
However, beachgoers will need to remember to pack their face masks alongside their swimwear.
“I would imagine at this point in time, we’re planning to continue to require mandatory face mask wearing on board our aircraft through the remainder of this summer schedule and next winter’s schedule,” Mr O’Leary said.
He said this could continue until next spring unless there are new guidelines from European authorities.
Mr O’Leary is keen to get his aircraft back in the air, so Ryanair can start making money and selling tickets again.The company has taken a massive hit over the last year, carrying only about 33 million passengers in the year to February, compared to 154 million in the same period a year earlier.
Normal holiday plans
Airlines are now hoping that vaccination efforts can allow a return to fairly normal holiday plans this summer, with European destinations primarily back on the cards.
“Families will be travelling to and from the UK, to and from Europe, going to the beaches of Europe on summer holidays that are richly deserved after the very fraught last 12 months,” Mr O’Leary said.
“I’m pleased to report that we’ve had a recent surge in bookings, as the UK began to open up restrictions also, two weeks ago when Germany eased their restrictions on travel . . . we’ve seen a significant surge in bookings,” he said.
Mr O’Leary added that the airline could survive another lost summer of travel – however, he saw little reason for this to happen.
He said: “If you’re fully vaccinated, frankly, I would be very surprised if there was any legal basis for the UK government preventing people travelling on holidays to other European countries, which will have caught up with the UK vaccine rollout programme by the end of May or the end of June.”
Ryanair said it expected to take delivery of 16 Boeing 737 Max aircraft before the coming summer season, lower than the previous guidance of up to 24 it had given in February. – PA/Reuters