Michael O’Leary probably erred on the side of caution when he told analysts in late May that Ryanair hoped to fly four million people in June. Even so, that the airline beat its chief executive’s estimate by 25 per cent to carry 5.3 million passengers last month, must boost its confidence in the recovery.
The load factor, basically the number of seats it fills on its planes, was 72 per cent in June against 79 per cent in May, when the airline flew 1.8 million passengers. However, last month’s load factor was consistent with what Ryanair has been achieving since it restarted flying 12 months ago, after being effectively grounded from mid-March 2020. In fact, May’s load factor was the highest since July last year and the figure has mostly hovered closer to 70 per cent.
At this point, the seven to nine million passengers that O’Leary said Ryanair would aim for in July, should it have reached the June target, looks more likely than it did in May. However, that is still not a given.
Fears over the fast-spreading Delta Covid-19 strain appeared to slow general airline seat sales in Europe towards the end of June. Germany then rocked the boat by suggesting that the EU bar non-vaccinated UK people. Spain and others rejected this. Nevertheless, if the idea took hold, it would not help Ryanair as the UK is one of its big markets.
Vaccines really unlock everything. Not just for the UK, but for everyone in the EU, which has just launched its digital Covid certificates, meant to finally free up travel.
There are certs for the vaccinated, immune and those with proof of a negative test. It’s still early days, but with different countries taking different approaches, full inoculation seems to be the most straightforward way of getting and using the certificates.
So not only are vaccines a Covid safeguard, they give maximum protection from the restrictions and bureaucracy that still dog travel. The more of us who are fully jabbed, the easier it will be for us to head south and hit the beach, something many of us, Ryanair – and airlines generally – really want by now.