Ryanair doubling capacity to 1.3m seats per week in Europe but not expanding in State

Bank of America says seats available from European airlines may reach 80% of 2019 levels

Ryanair is doubling capacity to 1.3 million seats a week in Europe, but not expanding in the Republic, as further evidence of air travel's recovery emerges.

The airline said last month that Covid-19 travel restrictions left it with an €815 million loss in the 12 months ended March 31st, but predicted that passenger numbers could hit nine million in July, 60 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.

Ryanair confirmed reports on Tuesday that it has increased the number of aircraft seats across its network to 1.3 million a week, double what it was offering in the final seven days of May.

"Ryanair traffic across Europe is recovering strongly in all markets except Ireland where the defective hotel quarantine is deterring millions of vaccinated British and EU visitors travelling here in June, July and August," the group said in a statement.

Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary called on the Government several times last month to end its controversial quarantine rules, which require travellers from the US and several EU states to remain in hotels at their own expense for two weeks.

Bank of America

News of Ryanair’s increase came as Bank of America said that the number of seats available from European airlines this summer could reach 80 per cent of 2019 levels.

Bank of America’s sky tracker calculated that in the week ended May 23rd, net seat sales on flights within Europe increased a percentage point over the previous seven days, to 32 per cent of what they were during the same period in 2019.

“They are now at the highest level since March 2020,” the bank noted. It said that daily website visits in the week ending May 25th were just 45 per cent down on 2019 levels.

Ryanair, Spanish carrier Iberia and Turkish Airlines all saw double-figure increases in website activity, the bank added.

Analyst Muneeba Kayani noted that Aer Lingus, British Airways and Iberia owner, International Airlines' Group, was well-placed to benefit as restrictions eased and travel resumed.

A Bank of America survey in March showed that Europe was the destination US residents wanted to visit once travel restarted.

The bank also noted that the UK could add popular sunspots Mallorca and the Canary Islands to its travel green list.

Digital Covid certificates

Meanwhile, the European Commission on Tuesday launched the system that will allow member states, including the Republic, to issue digital Covid certificates paving the way for free movement through the bloc.

OAG, which publishes regular updates on flights, airlines, airports and travel companies, said that airlines in both western and eastern Europe boosted capacity this week by more than 20 per cent.

The publisher highlighted Ryanair’s increase to 1.3 million seats, which it said was a doubling of the capacity offered by the Irish airline last week.

Mr O’Leary said last month that the carrier, Europe’s biggest, hoped to fly four million passengers this month.

From there, he suggested that it could reach seven to nine million in July, assuming that inoculation programmes continued and no vaccine-resistant Covid strains emerged.

Ryanair flew 14.8 million passengers in July 2019, when total traffic for the year hit 149 million.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O’Halloran covers energy, construction, insolvency, and gaming and betting, among other areas