Ryanair has announced a further 20 per cent cut in capacity for October, on top of reductions announced last month.

The carrier had already cut October capacity by 20 per cent, blaming a weakening in forward bookings, and this latest reduction means that it will operate around 40 per cent of schedule next month compared to 2019, down from the previous planned 50 per cent.

Ryanair said that it expects to maintain a 70 per cent + load factor at this revised capacity level.

In a statement the carrier said that “these capacity reductions were necessary due to damage caused to forward bookings by continuous changes in EU Government travel restrictions and policies, many of which are introduced at short notice, which undermine consumers’ willingness to make forward bookings”.

“In some countries (most notably Ireland), where the Government have maintained excessive and defective travel restrictions since July 1, Covid-19 rates have risen in recent weeks to 50 per 100,000 population – more than double those of Germany and Italy – where intra-EU air travel was freely permitted since July 1,” the airline continued.

A spokesperson for Ryanair said that if current trends and “EU Governments’ mismanagement of the return of air travel and normal economic activity continue”, similar capacity cuts may be necessary across the winter period.

“We call on Transport Minister Eamon Ryan to explain why over two months later he still hasn’t implemented any of the 14 recommendations of the Governments Aviation Task Force which were submitted to Government on 7 July last,” the spokesperson continued.

“He should also explain why NPHET [National Public Health Emergency Team] has kept Ireland locked up like North Korea since 1 July, while at the same time Italy and Germany removed all intra-EU travel restrictions and have delivered Covid case rates which are less than half the rate, which NPHET has presided over in Ireland. Intra EU air travel is not the problem and these defective travel bans are not a solution.”

In July Ryanair Holdings PLC reported a first quarter loss of €185 million, as Covid-19 caused a fall in traffic over the period from 42 million passengers to just 500,000.

Ryanair reports €185 million first quarter loss