Despite berating the “stupidity of a hard Brexit”, Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary has announced the UK’s biggest winter flight schedule ever.
The airline’s chief executive unveiled 21 new routes, bringing the total number of UK airports to 440.
The biggest expansion is in Birmingham, which is adding routes to Billund in Denmark, Grenoble and Toulouse in France, Santander in Spain, Venice in Italy and the Swedish capital of Stockholm.
Others include London Stansted to Rovaniemi, Liverpool to Rome, Bournemouth to Lanzarote and Manchester to the Montenegrin capital of Podgorica.
It follows Ryanair’s announcement of its ‘biggest’ Irish winter schedule ever with 156 routes out of Ireland now scheduled for winter 2022/23.
By 2025, Ryanair expects to carry 225 million passengers annually – eight times the 27.5 million it was carrying in the depths of the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr O’Leary insisted Ryanair would thrive in an expected economic downturn.
He said: “People in a recession become much more price sensitive.
“With every second decline in consumption, we have grown faster.
“At the lower end of our customer base, people may be traveling less. But we will see a much larger number of people disembarking from British Airways and easyJet.
“A combination of higher oil prices and a recession will eliminate some competitors.
“We appear to be the only significant growing airline in Europe.”
The vast majority of Ryanair’s fuel needs are hedged at about $63 a barrel through March 2023, about 40 percent lower than the current price.
But the Ryanair boss added a warning: “While our recovery and growth is very strong, it is still very fragile and tends to topple over in the face of unfavorable developments.”
Mr O’Leary has criticized Boris Johnson’s government for ending free movement in the Brexit deal, which he says is damaging British aviation by creating “endemic labor shortages”.
“Something has to be done,” he said. “There is nobody in the current cabinet who would be able to do that. Make a Brexit deal that makes sense.”
He added: “Grant Schapps [the transport secretary] would not be a loss in the transport sector.”
Ryanair is also trying to crack down on online travel agencies (OTAs) who allegedly overcharge passengers for ancillary services.
The CEO said online travel agencies are increasing fees by 130 percent for seats, 60 percent for baggage and 30 percent for priority boarding.
He gave the example of an allocated seat charge of €10 on Ryanair, which he thought would cost €22 on Kiwi and €24 on eDreams.
https://www.independent.ie/life/travel/travel-news/ryanair-warns-of-economic-slump-but-plans-biggest-ever-winter-schedule-from-uk-41949524.html Ryanair warns of economic slump – but plans biggest winter flight schedule ever from UK