Urgent action required to save aviation sector says Shannon Group as Ryanair announce base closures



UPDATED: 3.50pm

Ryanair is to close it Cork and Shannon bases for the winter as the airline cuts its schedule to 40 per cent of last year’s capacity, warning that more redundancies and unpaid leave were “inevitable” this winter.

As the Irish Times reports, the move comes as bookings have taken a hit from ongoing restrictions to curb the spread of Covid-19. Ryanair said its forward bookings had weakened “materially” in November and December.

The group said it would maintain up to 65 per cent of its winter route network, but with reduced frequencies. It is also closing its Toulouse base for the winter, and making significant base aircraft cuts in Belgium, Germany, Spain, Portugal and Vienna.

“While we deeply regret these winter schedule cuts, they have been forced upon us by Government mismanagement of EU air travel. Our focus continues to be on maintaining as large a schedule as we can sensibly operate to keep our aircraft, our pilots and our cabin crew current and employed while minimising job losses,” Ryanair’s chief executive Michael O’Leary said.

“It is inevitable, given the scale of these cutbacks, that we will be implementing more unpaid leave, and job sharing this winter in those bases where we have agreed reduced working time and pay, but this is a better short-term outcome than mass job losses.

“There will regrettably be more redundancies at those small number of cabin crew bases, where we have still not secured agreement on working time and pay cuts, which is the only alternative.”

The company is already operating at a 70 per cent load factor – a measure of how full its planes are – and expects to carry a total of 38 million passengers in its 2021 financial year. However, it warned that could be revised downward if more lockdowns were imposed during the winter.

“We have done everything in our power”

CEO of Shannon Group, which represents businesses in the region, Mary Considine said they had done everything in their power to retain the base.

“This is very disappointing news not only for Shannon based Ryanair employees and all our airport team, but for the whole region who rely on the services that Ryanair provide.

“In July, Ryanair resumed services to 16 destinations from Shannon, and as a result of today’s announcement this will see their operation at Shannon reduced to 8 flights serving Stansted, Manchester and Wroclaw for the winter period.

“The aviation industry is on its knees with further flight restrictions being imposed in EU countries as the virus rates increase. What we need now is a clear pathway to recovery for aviation. We had hoped that it would start with a harmonised EU traffic light system,” Ms Considine said.

“While this was endorsed by Ireland, the measures proposed fall short of what the industry requires. This urgently needs to be addressed and supported by a testing regime at airports to restore confidence and get aviation moving safely again.

“While we know recovery will take time, it is important that we plan now for the safe restoration of air services and we need to see the full implementation of the Aviation Recovery Taskforce recommendations. As an Island nation, the aviation industry is vital for Ireland. It needs to be protected and supported and we would hope this will be provided for in the National Economic Plan to be published next month,” she added.


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