Ryanair has been forced to cancel huge numbers of flights amid the coronavirus pandemic. Britons have been told they are unable to leave the country except for essential travel. Multiple countries across the world have also gone into lockdown.
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Ryanair’s CEO Michael O’Leary sent a message to the carrier’s customers today in light of the recent developments.
“Over the past few days, the spread of the Covid-19 Virus has transformed the lives of people all over Europe and the World,” said O’Leary.
“Across Europe, Governments have imposed unprecedented restrictions on citizen movement, starting with flight bans which have closed Europe’s skies to all but a tiny number of repatriation/rescue flights.
“We apologise sincerely for these disruptions which were necessary, and unavoidable, to help EU Governments limit the spread of Covid-19 to protect our citizens.
O’Leary explained that, from today, the majority of flights will be grounded, while Ryanair aircraft will be offered to EU governments to help the cause.
“As a Group of Airlines, we expect most of our flights to be grounded from Tues 24th March onwards,” said the Ryanair CEO.
“We have offered our aircraft to all EU Governments, both for rescue flights and to operate essential flights for the movement of vital medicines, personal protective equipment, and if necessary, emergency food supplies.
“As Europe’s borders become congested or closed, it’s vital Ryanair plays its part to keep vital medicines and food supplies moving.
“We are continuing to work with EU Governments on rescue flights to return stranded passengers to their home country.
“In all cases, these flights take place under maximum safety, with daily disinfecting of aircraft, and no trolley service to minimise social contact. The safety and well-being of our crews and passengers is our no.1 priority.”
Affected Ryanair customers will be contacted be the airline with information on how to proceed.
Britons are urged not to telephone the airline unless it’s truly urgent.
“Any passenger whose flight has been cancelled as a result of these Government shutdowns, will over the next week or two, receive an email outlining their options, explained O’Leary.
“At the same time as we are dealing with unprecedented numbers of flight bans, we have had to reduce office staff by 50 percent for social distancing reasons and we ask customers to be patient and bear with us; you will receive email communications in due course.
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“Please do not call our phone lines as the reduced staffing will be unable to accommodate anything but the most urgent of cases, which over the coming days, will be rescue flights.
“At this time, no one knows how long this Covid shutdown will last. The experience in China suggests a three-month period for the spread of the virus to be contained and reduced.”
O’Leary predicted that flights would not begin again until June.
“We do not expect to operate flights during the months of April and May at this time, but this will clearly depend upon Government advice, and we will in all cases comply with these instructions.
“While the immediate future is uncertain, it is important to remember that, like all pandemics, this crisis will pass.
“Our Governments and health agencies are taking unprecedented action, but they require our support, so by working together we can all help to eliminate Covid-19 and allow our lives to return to normality.”
O’Leary continued: “In Ryanair, Buzz, Lauda, and Malta Air, we will do everything we can to keep our aircraft, our crews, and our engineering teams operational so that when Europe defeats this Covid-19 pandemic, we are ready to return to flying, to allow Europe’s citizens to go back to work, to visit friends/family, and to rebuild Europe’s tourism industry, upon which so many millions of jobs and families depend.
“Rest assured that we and the 18,000 aviation professionals in the Ryanair Group of Airlines will do everything we can to support our Governments, our people, and our customers during these unprecedented times.
“Together, let’s all take care of ourselves, our families and our communities!”
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