Ryanair trims winter plans, sees full service in autumn 2021

FILE PHOTO: Ryanair Chief Executive Michael O'Leary attends a Reuters Newsmaker event in London

DUBLIN (Reuters) – Recent COVID-19 lockdowns mean Ryanair will fly fewer passengers than planned this winter and Europe’s biggest low-cost airline doesn’t expect to return to pre-pandemic levels of service until next autumn, its chief executive said on Tuesday.

The Irish airline said earlier this month it expected to fly 38 million passengers in its financial year to March 31. That is now likely to fall to “the mid-30s”, Group CEO Michael O’Leary said in an interview.

In the following year, Ryanair could fly anywhere between 80 million and 130 million passengers, depending on how the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines progress, he said.

O’Leary said the group expected to fly between 60% and 80% of last year’s capacity for much of next year, falling to 60-70% during the peak summer period.

“But I think by the time we get to the end of the summer into winter 2021 we expect to be back to pretty much close to all of our 2019 schedules,” he said.

(Reporting by Conor Humphries; Editing by Mark Potter)