Ryanair backs calls from regulators for face masks on flights

Airline says 14-day quarantines have ‘no scientific basis’

Under the guidelines, carriers and airport operators must ensure that passengers keep a distance of 1.5 metres from each other when feasible. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Under the guidelines, carriers and airport operators must ensure that passengers keep a distance of 1.5 metres from each other when feasible. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

Ryanair backed calls from EU regulators who said air passengers should wear face masks and frequently wash their hands in a set of new guidelines designed to ensure safety in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a statement on Thursday, the budget airline group said the guidelines will allow Europe’s tourism industry restart in July and August.

Joint guidelines of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control represent an effort to map out rules for safe flying after a worldwide collapse in air travel.

Under the guidelines, carriers and airport operators must ensure that passengers keep a distance of 1.5 metres from each other when feasible. When that isn’t possible, extra measures such as hand washing and “respiratory etiquette” must be implemented.

Aer Lingus confirmed on Wednesday that all passengers flying with the airline from Thursday must wear face masks. Since last Monday it has requested travellers on its flights to wear them. Pilots and crew have been wearing them for some time.

Ryanair’s group chief executive, Michael O’Leary, suggested that the Government mandate the wearing of face masks for airline and train passengers, “as this is the best and most effective way to limit the spread of Covid-19 in public transport environments where social distancing is not possible”.

Call on governments

“We welcome the European Union’s recommendation on face masks, and call again on the Irish and UK Government to abandon their unexplainable, ineffective, and unimplementable quarantine restrictions. Europe’s citizens can travel safely on their summer holidays wearing face masks and observing temperature protocols, but 14-day quarantines have no scientific basis, are unimplementable and unnecessary in circumstances where airline, train and underground passengers wear face masks where social distancing isn’t possible,” Mr O’Leary said.

His comments follow those of his colleague, the chief executive of Ryanair Dac Eddie Wilson, who said last week that quarantines are ineffective because they cannot be policed.

Ryanair intends to resume flying with 40 per cent of its schedule from July 1st, but with temperature checks at airports and precautions such as requiring passengers to wear masks on board.

Blacklist claims

Separately, a spokeswoman for the airline said a report in the UK Mirror newspaper that it was threatening to blacklist customers who use their bank or building society to claim refunds for cancelled flights were “untrue”. “Chargebacks are not considered a fraudulent activity and Ryanair only blacklists customers in confirmed fraud cases,” the spokeswoman said.

A chargeback is a reversal of a transaction on a credit or debit card, usually one which is disputed. The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission recommends that consumers first contact the company and request a refund and, if unsuccessful, seek a chargeback for which a card provider will determine a persons entitlement.

Ryanair has previously said that as a result of the grounding of more than 90 per cent of its fleet in recent weeks it was “having to process 10,000 times the usual volume [of refund requests] and have fewer staff available due to social-distancing measures”. – Additional reporting: Bloomberg