Ryanair has threatened to cut its Ireland-UK schedules by up to 1,000 flights, a move that will also impact an already struggling Shannon Airport.
The airline says this will result in the the loss of over 200,000 passengers and is blaming the move on Ireland’s “defective quarantine restriction on EU visitors” even as the UK and Northern Ireland last week opened up air bridges to most EU countries.
Ryanair only resumed operations from Shannon on July 1st and has come under fire for refusing to allow passengers who booked flights before the pandemic, to change their travel plans for free.
Passengers who made bookings after June 10th, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic are however allowed change their flights without charge.
An airline statement said: “Ireland (which accounts for less than 8% of Ryanair’s traffic), its tourism industry and connectivity for Irish workers commuting particularly to/from the UK is now suffering unrecoverable losses, as arriving EU passengers are forced to quarantine even while the border to Northern Ireland remains wide open with no such quarantines.”
A Spokesperson for Ryanair said: “Last week when the UK and Northern Ireland removed travel restrictions on short haul flights to/from the European Union, Ireland became the only country in the EU with a blanket 14-day quarantine restriction on all arrivals from EU countries, most of which have lower Covid case rates than Ireland.
It makes no sense, when Governments all over Europe have opened up EU flights since 1st June and removed travel restrictions on intra-EU travel, that the Irish Govt continues to treat countries like Germany, Denmark and Greece as if they were suffering similar levels of Covid as the USA, Brazil and India. Irish citizens are being advised by their Govt that they should not travel to and from EU countries (almost all of whom have lower Covid case rates than Ireland), yet citizens of Northern Ireland can travel freely to and from the EU – via Dublin Airport – without any quarantine restrictions whatsoever.”
“Air travel between Ireland and the UK is being badly damaged by this ineffective 14 day quarantine. Ryanair will significantly reduce its flights between Ireland and the UK in Aug & Sept, to reflect this suppressed demand. This means 100,000 fewer visitors from the UK travelling to regional airports in Cork, Shannon, Knock and Kerry during the peak months of the tourism season. This unique policy by Ireland, insisting on blanket quarantines with our European neighbours (most of whom have lower Covid case rates than Ireland) is damaging the recovery of Ireland’s economy and our tourism industry, causing long-term damage to jobs in Ireland’s largest employment sector, with business travellers in particular being told that Ireland is closed for business,” the spokesperson added.
“We call on the Irish Govt to remove all travel restrictions between Ireland and the EU (almost all of whom have lower Covid case rates than Ireland) as a matter of urgency, so that Ireland’s hotels, guest houses, restaurants and other tourism providers can recover their business and minimise job losses before we reach the downturn winter period. If Micheál Martin does not quarantine for 14 days after visiting Brussels this week, then why should any other Irish or EU citizen be treated differently,” the airline added.