Ryanair to close Shannon base for winter – Dropping 6 services

Ryanair to close Shannon base for winter – Dropping 6 services

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Shannon Chamber

Reacting to the news, Shannon Chamber CEO Helen Downes said: “Connectivity through Shannon Airport is a critical part of the overall industry and tourism infrastructure of the region and, while not currently travelling extensively, businesses and people will regain the confidence to travel, once it is declared safe to do so.”

“The aviation sector has been one of the most severely impacted by COVID-19 and while a €10 million provision was included in Budget 2021 to address challenges facing Shannon and Cork Airports, given the impact of COVID-19 on our airports, capital support alone will not reignite the sector. The recommendations of the Aviation Recovery Task Force must be actioned. We would hope that these issues will be addressed in the National Economic Plan due for publication in November.

“Connectivity via Shannon Airport is hugely important to our member companies. They need connectivity to link with their markets from a sales and relationship point of view. While many have adapted as the pandemic has evolved, it’s very hard to replace the human contact element of business. Shannon Airport is the anchor that enables business connectivity into and out of this region.

We would hope that Ryanair’s decision is temporary and as the impact of the virus abates and people have the confidence to travel knowing that health and safety issues and testing, tracing and tracking have been adequately addressed. We look forward to seeing Ryanair’s base reopen at Shannon in the months ahead and Shannon Airport’s runway’s active with Ryanair and other airlines’ flight movements.

“Measures to assist the airport recover from the impact of COVID-19 are not an option; they are a necessity. An island nation requires connectivity. All airports have been severely impacted and this has to be taken into account in the forthcoming National Economic Plan,” added Ms Downes.

In a statement, the Department of Transport confirmed that it has been informed that Ryanair will close its bases at Cork and Shannon Airports for the winter as part of its decision to cut capacity on its flights across Europe.

“It’s understood Ryanair will continue to serve Cork and Shannon Airports although with fewer destinations served and reduced frequencies. Airlines all over Europe are reporting very low forward booking rates until end of 2020 compared to normal. In the circumstances, most airlines are now reducing capacity.

The government recognises that today’s news will be a blow to Ryanair staff, other affected workers and the airports and regions involved. The Government is fully alert to the devastating impact the global pandemic has had on international travel and appreciates and acknowledges the important role of Ryanair and Shannon and Cork Airports to the economies of the Midwest and South regions respectively.

Photo: © Pat Flynn 2019

The government has agreed to adopt the EU “traffic light” system for international travel and a decision on implementation is expected at a Cabinet meeting next week.

The government is committed to the survival and recovery of the sector, including Shannon and Cork Airports, and has already indicated that further Covid Support funding will be made available to safeguard strategic connectivity and resilience into the future.

Budget 2021 already includes a provision of €10m to address challenges facing Cork and Shannon Airports.  This is in addition to €6.1m in emergency funding provided to Shannon Airport in June this year to complete a safety and security project.

Airports generally as well as the airlines will of course continue will to benefit from the economy-wide support measures that are open to all sectors – notably wage supports and tax deferrals.”

Commenting on today’s announcement by Ryanair of their intention to temporarily close their Shannon Airport base for Winter, Mary Considine, CEO of Shannon Group said: “This is very disappointing news not only for Shannon based Ryanair employees and all our  airport team, but for the whole  region who rely on the services that Ryanair provide. We have done everything in our power to retain the base.

“In July, Ryanair resumed services to 16 destinations from Shannon, and as a result of today’s announcement this will see their operation at Shannon reduced to 8 flights serving Stansted, Manchester and Wroclaw for the winter period.

Shannon Group CEO Mary Considine – Photo: © Pat Flynn 2019

“The aviation industry is on its knees with further flight restrictions being imposed in EU countries as the virus rates increase. What we need now is a clear pathway to recovery for aviation. We had hoped that it would start with a harmonised EU traffic light system. While this was endorsed by Ireland, the measures proposed fall short of what the industry requires. This urgently needs to be addressed and supported by a testing regime at airports to restore confidence and get aviation moving safely again.

“While we know recovery will take time, it is important that we plan now for the safe restoration of air services and we need to see the full implementation of the Aviation Recovery Taskforce recommendations.  As an Island nation, the aviation industry is vital for Ireland. It needs to be protected and supported and we would hope this will be provided for in the National Economic Plan to be published next month,” said Ms. Considine.

File Photo: © Pat Flynn 2018

Earlier: Ryanair has confirmed that a revision of its winter schedule will see the closure of the airline’s bases at Shannon and Cork for the winter months.

While this is a blow to Shannon, a base closure doesn’t mean a complete discontinuation of flights. It means that no aircraft or cabin crew will be based at that airport for that period. It’s understood that as many as 55 pilots and cabin crew members based at Shannon will be temporarily laid off as a result of the base closure.

While a base closure will impact the number of routes Ryanair can operate to/from Shannon Ryanair will continue to operate services from Shannon. Aircraft required to fly routes that will continue to operate, will be flown in from other airports.

According to Ryanair, who had warned of this previously; “Due to increased flight restrictions imposed by EU governments, air travel to/from much of Central Europe, the UK, Ireland, Austria, Belgium and Portugal have been heavily curtailed. This has caused forward bookings to weaken slightly in October, but materially in November and December.”

In a statement, the airline said: “In light of these weaker bookings, and Ryanair’s plan to operate with a 70% load factors, Ryanair has today further reduced its winter schedule (Nov – Mar) taking capacity down from 60% to 40% of prior year. Ryanair expects to maintain up to 65% of its winter route network, but with reduced frequencies.

In addition to the winter closure of bases in Cork, Shannon, and Toulouse, Ryanair has announced significant base aircraft cuts in Belgium, Germany, Spain, Portugal and Vienna.”

Ryanair’s Group CEO Michael O’Leary said: “We have continued to flex our capacity in September and October to reflect both market conditions and changing Government restrictions, with the objective of sustaining a 70% load factor, which allows us operate as close to breakeven as possible and minimise cash burn. While the Covid situation remains fluid and hard to predict, we must now cut our full year traffic forecast to 38m guests.

While we deeply regret these winter schedule cuts they have been forced upon us by Government mismanagement of EU air travel. Our focus continues to be on maintaining as large a schedule as we can sensibly operate to keep our aircraft, our pilots and our cabin crew current and employed while minimising job losses.

It is inevitable, given the scale of these cutbacks, that we will be implementing more unpaid leave, and job sharing this winter in those bases where we have agreed reduced working time and pay, but this is a better short term outcome than mass job losses.

There will regrettably be more redundancies at those small number of cabin crew bases, where we have still not secured agreement on working time and pay cuts, which is the only alternative. We continue to actively manage our cost base to be prepared for the inevitable rebound and recovery of short haul air travel in Europe once an effective Covid-19 vaccine is developed.

In the meantime, we urge all EU Governments to immediately, and fully, adopt the EU Commission’s Traffic Light System, which allows for safe air travel between EU states on a regional basis to continue (without defective travel restrictions) for those countries and regions of Europe, who are able to demonstrate that their Covid case rates are less than 50 per 100,000 population.”

When asked to clarify what a ‘base closure’ means, a Ryanair spokesperson said: “It doesn’t mean complete discontinuation of flights. Base closure means Ryanair are removing based aircraft from an airport, which has an impact on the number of routes it can operate to/from this airport.”

What is an airline base?

A base is an airport where an airline bases aircraft and crew. It means that at the end of each day, there are aircraft and crew based at the aircraft ready to operate the next day’s schedule.

While airlines operate between many airports each day, not all these airports are bases. In many cases, there are no aircraft or crew based at these airports but, services are operated by aircraft and crews that fly in from other airports in the carrier’s network.

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