The boss of Ryanair says it’s “nonsense” that the UK government plans to introduce 14-day quarantines for international flight passengers.
Michael O’Leary told Sky News he believed ministers were “making stuff up as they go along” – saying such a precaution was unworkable and unenforceable.
He said on Ian King Live that face masks were the “most effective” public health measure, as the no-frills carrier maintained its plans to resume 40% of its flight schedule from July.
Mr O’Leary added that bookings were “building nicely” though it remained cautious on the future with passenger numbers tipped to halve in its current financial year as the industry endures unprecedented international travel disruption.
Ryanair used its annual results for the year to March to reiterate that is has enough cash to endure the turbulence from COVID-19 which, it said, had forced it to ground more than 99% of its scheduled flights since the start of April.
The no-frills carrier guided that it expected tough competition from flag carrier rivals when services do begin again as it stepped up its legal row with European regulators.
Ryanair’s statement said: “The competitive landscape in Europe will be distorted by unprecedented quantums of state aid (in breach of EU rules) under which over €30bn has been gifted to the Lufthansa Group, Air France-KLM, Alitalia, SAS and Norwegian among others.
“We therefore expect that traffic on reduced flight schedules will be subject to significant price discounting, and below cost selling, from these flag carriers with huge state aid war chests.”
In an interview with Sky’s sister channel CNBC, Mr O’Leary hinted that Ryanair’s bid to re-shape itself for weaker demand ahead, and to cut costs, through 3,000 job losses was built on the assumption that pilots and crew agreed pay cuts of 20%.
The airline said it was engaging with unions.
But the UK pilots’ union BALPA said on Friday that it believed it was being blackmailed by the company.
Its general secretary, Brian Strutton, said then: “Ryanair pilots recognise that the airline has to restructure to meet the immediate short term and the post COVID long term which led to their recent announcement of up to 3,000 potential job losses.
“However they have asked our members to accept 20% pay cuts and detrimental changes to terms and conditions for five years or threatened 320 UK pilot jobs.
“This kind of ultimatum is not the way to do business so we have insisted Ryanair conduct a formal consultation with us.”
Ryanair reported a 13% increase in profit after tax to €1bn (£890m) for the year to the end of March.
That figure excluded a €353m fuel hedging charge.
Passenger numbers rose 4% to 149 million despite the start of flight disruption towards the end of the period.
It admitted the current year would be difficult but said a lack of clarity meant it could not provide any profit guidance.