Very aggressive discounting

By | Category: Travel news

This was what Michael O’Leary – the boss of Ryanair – said would happen in an interview on BBC Breakfast yesterday. In two other interviews I saw him give on Bloomberg and Sky, he didn’t go quite as far but nonetheless, in contrast to what other pundits have been saying recently, he offered a bright spot for holidaymakers and travellers. Those pundits had been suggesting limited flying, high  prices and some form of social distancing

Ryanair plane ascending
Good deals on flights in the late summer?

When flying recommences he said – the suggestion is very late summer or autumn – airlines and hotels will offer deep discount to entice us all to fly again.

Both O’Leary and John Holland-Kaye (who was also interviewed on BBC Breakfast) poured cold water on social distancing at airports and on planes. O’Leary pointed out in all three interviews that social distancing on planes was impossible and removing the middle seat was no option. Why? Because the aisle and window passenger were still only two-and-a-half feet apart. One passenger every three rows might be more acceptable social distancing but no airline could be viable if that suggestion was followed.

O’Leary was scathing about the state aid dished out to Lufthansa by the German government, to Air France by the French and Alitalia by the Italians suggesting that all three were “doped up” by the state in contravention to EU law. Whereas three weeks ago, he said, he had thought there were would be fewer airlines coming through this crisis he now say more and that is why there would be discounting.

The bad news is that he thought that it would take 2-3 years before passenger numbers returned to pre-coronavirus figures. If true, it means airlines, hotels, attractions and destinations are in for tough times for a few more years to come.

Perhaps only the Tunisians and Egyptians are aware of how damaging that can be as both have had to face a massive downturn in recent years.

Both O’Leary and Holland-Kaye seem minded that passengers will not be allowed into airports unless they have temperature checks to prove they are not above 98.4. Once on a plane, people will probably have to wear masks but whilst that might be acceptable on short-haul flights – I think O’Leary said the average Ryanair flight was just 75 minutes – for long-haul flights how many masks will one passenger need? What will they do when masks become damp? Will there be special bags in which to put discarded masks?

There is still a lot to be thought out but on the day that Wizz started flying again from Luton Airport it is the beginning of the way back.

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