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Ryanair boss optimistic for summer travel rebound despite government advice

written by Hannah Dowling | February 2, 2021

Ryanair topdog Michael O’Leary has expressed optimism that Britons will be free to travel for the European summer season despite government advice to the contrary.

O’Leary has praised the UK’s efforts in the vaccine rollout, with around 14 per cent of the country’s population having already received the jab.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4, O’Leary said, “We are heartened by the fact that the UK is expecting to vaccinate all the over-50s by the end of March, Europe is probably running a couple of months behind that by the end of June.

“So we think once all those high risk groups have been vaccinated, then travel restrictions should be removed, particularly on short haul intra-European travel and we expect there to be a strong recovery of beach holidays and family beach holidays going to Europe this summer.”

The Ryanair executive also stated that the vaccine rollout across Europe will need to pick up some steam, and follow the UK’s efforts, if the travel and airline industries are to see widespread relief by the end of the summer.

He stated that the EU needs to “step up the slow pace” of its own rollout, having only currently vaccinated less than three in every 100 people in the EU population.


O’Leary also reiterated a point he has made many times before, that there will be a strong “pent-up demand” for travel which will see airlines such as his own recover quickly once restrictions are removed.

The Ryanair CEO’s comments come just days after UK Minister for COVID Vaccine Deployment Nadhim Zahawi warned Britons that they should “absolutely” avoid making bookings for summer holidays outside of the country, as the new, more aggressive strain of the coronavirus continues to run rampant through the community.

“There’s still 37,000 people in hospital with COVID at the moment – it’s far too early for us to even speculate about the summer,” Zahawi said.

Throughout the EU, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel told party lawmakers that “no tourist travel should be taking place”, as her government touted even tougher border measures.

Meanwhile, Sweden has barred travel from neighbouring Norway in an attempt to stem the spread of new COVID-19 variants, and Belgium has banned non-essential travel.

O’Leary’s comments also come following news that Ryanair is expecting to post an £800 million (US$1.1 billion) annual loss at the end of the March quarter.

However, the airline has repeatedly stated it is in a strong position to capitalise on a recovery in demand for air travel, having retained much of its intra-European network, and kept pilots and staff current and operational.


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