Ryanair shares flat on flight cut plan, while former COO Bellew feels heat at EasyJet

The Ryanair flight was forced to land in Stansted London airport.

Ryanair shares were flat after it announced plans to cut 1,000 flights it operates between Ireland and the UK during August and September due to what it has called the Government’s ongoing “defective” Covid-19 quarantine laws.

The airline said the move would result in more than 200,000 lost passengers to Cork, Shannon, Knock and Kerry airports and “unrecoverable” losses to Ireland’s tourism industry.

Flights to and from Ireland account for less than 8% of Ryanair’s total traffic. The airline, however, has called for a lifting of Irish quarantine rules – which call for in-coming passengers to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival – “as a matter of urgency” so that the country’s tourism industry can begin to recover and minimise further job losses.

It said the policy also suggests to business travellers that Ireland is closed for business.

“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,” a Ryanair spokesperson said.

"It makes no sense, when Governments all over Europe have opened up EU flights since June 1 and removed travel restrictions on intra-EU travel, that the Irish Government continues to treat countries like Germany, Denmark and Greece as if they were suffering similar levels of Covid as the US, Brazil and India," they said.

Meanwhile, Ryanair’s former chief operations officer Peter Bellew is facing a vote of confidence from pilots at his new employer EasyJet this week. The ballot – being carried out by the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA), which represents 90% of EasyJet pilots – is set to close at midday on Friday.

BALPA has criticised and accused Mr Bellew – who joined EasyJet as chief operating officer in January after a failed court bid by Ryanair to delay the move - over misjudging the Covid-19 pandemic, trying to bypass unions and proposing pilot redundancies at a scale for which there was “no justification.”

EasyJet has rebuffed the criticism, which also claimed that Mr Bellew has gone against best practices of the EU’s aviation safety agency.

Elsewhere, Virgin Atlantic has agreed a rescue deal with shareholders and creditors worth £1.2bn (€1.3bn) to secure its future beyond the coronavirus crisis, the British airline said on Tuesday.

The private-only deal removes the need for government support that had previously been sought by founder Richard Branson and is expected to be completed towards the end of this summer and be spread across the next 18 months.

The airline, which is 51% owned by Mr Branson’s Virgin Group and 49% by US airline Delta, has had to close its Gatwick base and cut more than 3,500 jobs to contend with the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic, which has grounded planes and hammered demand for air travel.

- Additional reporting Reuters

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