By John Flett
Ryanair Triples the Number of Passengers Carried in June
The benefits of robust vaccination programs and a consolidated approach to the easing of travel restrictions are beginning to see positive effects for the European aviation industry. On Friday, the Ryanair Group announced that 5.3 million passengers were carried across the consortium’s network of airlines in the month of June. This compares with 1.8 million passengers in the previous month of May and 0.4 million in June 2020 – an increase of almost 300%. This follows a positive trend for the European aviation market with the Irish Times reporting that the number of flights and flight bookings has surpassed 50 percent of pre-pandemic levels.
In a forecast in May, Chief Executive Michael O’Leary had anticipated the carriage of 4 million passengers in June that may lead to between 7 and 9 million passengers traveling in July. The Euro football (soccer) tournament has also proven to be a boom for airlines as games have been held across the continent and in the UK and will continue until the final on July 11. The tournament, which is scheduled every four years, was postponed from last year and is being played with significant interest as the first major multi-country sports event since the beginning of the pandemic.
Ryanair added extra flights to accommodate fans able to travel within the European Union, with a spokesperson saying, “After a year of postponement it’s great to see the UEFA Euro 2020 tournament in full swing…. thousands of fans have already booked their seats with Ryanair to see and support their countries.”
That actual figure for Ryanair passengers in June was ahead of Mr. O’Leary’s forecast has led to believe that July figures may be at the upper end of the scale. However, there have been some worrying signs that this may not be the case. Toward the end of June, rising coronavirus case figures in a number of European countries have been reported as the spread of the Delta variant of the virus gives concern. The United Kingdom has seen case figures reach late-January numbers when countries were managing the ‘second wave’ of the virus. This has led to the continuation and further upgrade of travel restrictions being imposed on travelers from the UK in some European countries.
Concern about the level of infections of the Delta variant in the UK has meant that Germany has restricted inbound travel with UK citizens ‘subject to pre-departure digital registration and 14-day quarantine with no exemptions and no possibility for early test and release (including for the fully vaccinated).’ Travel to Germany from the UK is only available if travelers are ‘a German citizen, a resident or their spouse/partner/child under 18, or if you can invoke an urgent humanitarian reason such as an immediate family bereavement.’
Hope for a positive summer holiday season for European airlines now appears to rest on the management of the Delta variant, the impact of travel restrictions and acceptance of vaccination status for arriving passengers.