Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary claims new lockdown is a ‘cover-up for Boris Johnson’s political mismanagement’ – as airline suffers £178m loss in first half of 2020 and predicts WORSE to follow
- Ryanair announced losses of £178million from the coronavirus pandemic
- Ireland-based low cost airline said it ‘expects record higher losses’ to come
Ryanair has announced losses of £178million from the coronavirus pandemic as its CEO insisted testing could have avoided new restrictions, branding Boris Johnson’s second lockdown ‘a cover-up for political mismanagement’.
Michael O’Leary savaged the government over the impending national shutdown as his Ireland-based low cost airline said it ‘expects record higher losses’ in the second half of the year.
The firm’s huge losses are particularly striking as the company has a lower cost base and a stronger balance sheet.
Mr O’Leary said: ‘National lockdown hasn’t defeated Covid, that’s the whole point, the lockdown at the start of the year achieved nothing, the second lockdown will achieve even less – it’s just a cover-up for political mismanagement, which the Johnson government continues to deliver.
Michael O’Leary called Boris ‘s new lockdown ‘a cover-up for political mismanagement’
‘What we need is much more extensive test and tracing, the UK should setting a target of not just 500,000 people a week, it should be 5 million a week, you need much more extensive testing.
‘Air travel, certainly on shorthold within the European Union can continue and has if you have passengers having a test within 72 hours of departure – that would give us assurances we’re not spreading the virus in Europe.
‘European governments have failed to put that in place during the first lockdown, which is why we have this second lockdown and we need to use this second lockdown to massively scale up testing because testing is the way out of or living with this virus without having these utterly failed and deeply damaging lockdowns.’
The CEO was speaking to Radio 4 as he admitted stripping out the flight schedule for most of November and the early part of December
He said there was a skeleton selection of services between UK airports and Europe, kept on for essential work travel.
But he said it meant if flights were still operating they could not get refunds, despite the lockdown banning travel.
Ryanair said it had lost £178million so far this year and expected more to come in later months
Airports like Heathrow, pictured, are empty after the coronavirus restrictions hit hard
Mr O’Leary added: ‘What customers can take advantage of is our change facility, we’ve waived the change fee, so if they were booking in November they can change it, move to December or January if needs be, but there won’t be refunds on flights that are operating and travelling.’
Coronavirus saw 99% of the carrier’s fleet grounded for almost four months between mid-March and the end of June.
The company said traffic in the first half of the year fell from 86 million to 17 million passengers compared with the same period last year, around 80%.
Its revenue dropped 78% to 1.18 billion euros (£1.06 billion), while the loss in this half year contrasts with a profit after tax of 1.15 billion euros (£1.04 billion) in the first half of last financial year.
Data on flights analysed by Flightradar24 showed the difference in flights from last year
With almost no traffic in the first quarter of the year, the ‘vast majority’ of the first half of the year’s revenue was earned in the second quarter, the firm said.
It added: ‘Given the current Covid-19 uncertainty, Ryanair cannot provide FY21 PAT (profit after tax) guidance at this time.
‘The group expects to carry approximately 38 million passengers in FY21, although this guidance could be further revised downwards if EU Govts continue to mismanage air travel and impose more uncoordinated travel restrictions or lock downs this winter.’
It said the pandemic, uncertainties over Brexit, airline pricing, fuel costs, competition from new and existing carriers, actions by governments and the willingness of passengers to travel ‘could significantly impact’ its results for the remainder of the year.
It was critical of what it called a ‘flood of illegal state aid from EU governments’ to carriers including Air France and Lufthansa, which it said would ‘distort competition and allow failed flag carriers to engage in below-cost selling for many years’.