European carrier Ryanair said on Monday it will operate a “significantly reduced flying schedule” in the next six months compared to its original expectations due to Covid-related restrictions tightening across Europe.
The UK government announced last week a second lockdown for England starting on November 5. France and Germany are also introducing second nationwide lockdowns. Many other European governments have increased restrictions over the past few days.
“The WHO (World Health Organization) themselves confirmed that lockdowns should be the last option, lockdowns are essentially a failure,” Michael O’Leary, CEO of Ryanair told CNBC.
He added: “If we had more aggressive test and tracing provision, or as (UK Prime Minister) Boris Johnson promised world class testing and tracing, which clearly we don’t have in the UK, we could and would have avoided a second lockdown.”
READ MORE: England’s November lockdown to be extended throughout December if infection rate doesn’t go down, Gove confirms
Ryanair has been hit hard by stay-at-home orders in the wake of the Covid pandemic. The company reported on Monday a 78 percent plunge in revenue between April and September in comparison with its performance a year ago. The airline also experienced an 80 percent drop in the number of customers in those six months, and posted a loss for its key summer period for the first time in three decades.
“It is clear that air travel is in the frontline of this pandemic … And we think the only way out of this is for governments, the British, the Irish and other European governments, to introduce pre-departure testing,” O’Leary said.
According to Ryanair air travel in Europe is expected to remain subdued for the next few years. O’Leary said that there will be “a core amount of essential travel that will take place this winter, but fundamentally we are talking about a number that is less than a third of our normal.”
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