Ryanair has issued bullish plans for the upcoming summer, arguing there will be huge demand for air travel from the UK and across Europe in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
While government officials have attempted to tamp down excitement over the potential of summer trips, the low-cost carrier is banking on a big return from June onward.
Speaking this morning, Ryanair chief executive, Michael O’Leary, said the carrier hope to fly around 2,300 trips a day over the peak summer season.
This is around 80 per cent of pre-Covid-19 capacity over the key months of July, August and September.
The plans include weekly flights across 480 routes, including 26 new routes to popular holiday destinations in France, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain.
“The success of the UK vaccine programme has given us great confidence, with the European Union now catching up, we can all enjoy trips this summer,” O’Leary said.
“Ryanair will focus on holiday destinations such as Spain, Italy and Greece, which have all said they will be open to British travellers this summer.
“There is huge pent-up demand for air travel, and the recovery will be driven by short-haul trips in Europe, rather than in the long-haul market,” O’Leary added.
The Ryanair chief also denied it was too early to book trips, putting him at odds with the government, which has urged travellers to wait for a report from the Global Travel Taskforce early next month.
“It is not too early to be booking holidays – while there is no demand across the Easter period, we have seen strong and sustained demand across the summer.
“There is no reason why people cannot travel to the beaches of Europe, as they did last year, with vaccination levels so high,” O’Leary added.
“Ryanair would be able to survive a second summer without flights, but I see little chance of that happening.
“The whole point of a vaccination programme is to reduce cases, hospitalisations – and we have seen that beginning to happen in the UK.
“There is no doubt in my mind that European governments are very keen to welcome British travellers – and if we have 80 per cent of the UK population vaccinated it will be very difficult to keep those people at home.”