Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary announced on Tuesday that the ultra low-cost airline will suspend all of its commercial flights until at least June. The news comes as the result of the ongoing coronavirus crisis, which has forced countries to close borders and travelers to stay at home to reduce its spread.
Europe’s biggest low-cost airline will temporarily suspend all commercial operations, instead opting to use its aircraft to help with repatriation and humanitarian efforts where needed.
“As a Group of Airlines [Ryanair, Lauda, Buzz and Malta Air], we expect most of our flights to be grounded from Tues 24 March onwards”, O’Leary said in a statement (PDF). “We have offered our aircraft to all EU Governments, both for rescue flights and to operate essential flights for the movement of vital medicines, personal protective equipment, and if necessary, emergency food supplies”.
O’Leary said that he believes it’s important for Ryanair to keep vital medicines and food supplies moving. For instances where Ryanair aircraft are being used to repatriate passengers, the airline is taking maximum safety precautions, such as daily disinfecting aircraft and no trolley service in an effort to minimize contact.
“At this time, no one knows how long this Covid shutdown will last”, O’Leary said. “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”.
For passengers who had Ryanair flights booked, the airline said that it will contact you within “the next week or two”, outlining your options. It’s advising passengers not to call the customer care center, as office staff were reduced by 50% “for social distancing reasons”.
Ryanair is not alone in having to cut its capacity or even suspend its operations entirely. The airline joins a growing list of those who have been forced to do the same amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis.