Ryanair offers aircraft for rescue missions and urgent supplies

Airline says regular passenger flights unlikely to resume until June at the earliest

As airlines worldwide idle thousands of aircraft due to the coronavirus pandemic, they are facing the unprecedented problem of finding a place to park them. The number of planes in storage has doubled to more than 5,000 since the start of the year.

 

Ryanair has offered its fleet of aircraft to European governments, both for rescue flights of citizens left stranded abroad due to Covid-19 restrictions, and to move vital medicines, personal protective equipment and emergency food supplies.

The airline, which is stopping most flights from Tuesday onwards, also said it does not expect regular passenger flights to resume until June at the earliest.

“We do not expect to operate flights during the months of April and May at this time, but this will clearly depend upon Government advice, and we will in all cases comply with these instructions,” chief executive Michael O’Leary said in a message to customers.

Talks

The carrier said it was in talks with governments on how it can best assist them and will charge only for costs. It is currently working with authorities here to help bring back Irish citizens who are trapped in Spain.

“As Europe’s borders become congested or closed, it’s vital Ryanair plays its part to keep vital medicines and food supplies moving. We’ re continuing to work with EU governments on rescue flights to return stranded passengers to their home country,” Mr O’Leary said.

He stressed that all rescue flight would take place under maximum safety with daily disinfecting of aircraft and no trolley service to minimise social contact.

The airline, which has reduced staff numbers at its offices for social distancing purposes, asked passengers whose flights have been cancelled to be patient and wait for it to contact them via email.

“Please do not call our phonelines as the reduced staffing will be unable to accommodate anything but the most urgent of cases, which over the coming days, will be rescue flights,” Mr O’Leary said.

Pay

Ryanair on Friday said it was halving pay across the board for two months as it continues to grapple with the Covid-19 crisis, which has seen it and other airlines forced to cancel flights.

“We will do everything we can to keep our aircraft, our crews, and our engineering teams operational so that when Europe defeats this Covid-19 pandemic, we are ready to return to flying, to allow Europe’s citizens to go back to work, to visit friends/family, and to rebuild Europe’s tourism industry, upon which so many millions of jobs and families depend,” Mr O’Leary said.