The mother and father of fare wars

By | Category: Travel news

This is what Michael O’Leary – the boss of Ryanair – was prophesying when he was interviewed on CNBC’s early morning show, Squawk box, yesterday.

Will sales encourage us to put health safety fears behind us and fly again?

Always a good source for a headline, O’Leary thought that when flying was allowed again then a fares war would break out. Asked if we could see the return of a €1 or £1 fare again, he was more cagey saying that introducing sufficient health protection policies was implementable and was the priority and the pricing of fares would come later.

He also said that even now, booking was strong for family groups and the prices being charged were not being discounted.

As in the round of interviews he have a few weeks ago, he still thinks that flying will return in July and still sees Ryanair carrying about 50% of its normal number of passengers. He thinks things will pick up from the autumn onwards.

Overall though he thinks that passenger numbers will pick up pretty quickly and partially that is due to the mother and father of all price wars as airlines strive to get us to travel with them – always supposing they want to travel in  the first place.

The big imponderable in all of his thinking – which he himself acknowledged –  was whether passengers want to, and feel comfortable doing so, fly again.

He lambasted the British government over its proposed 14 day quarantine rule saying that it was unworkable and a joke. He thought people wouldn’t respect it and questioned if it could be enforced.

I also wonder whether people would self-isolate and agree that it couldn’t possibly be enforced but morally, most people might follow the guidance if –and when – it is introduced. I say when because more than a week later, the British government still hasn’t given a date for introducing this new rule although the thinking is that it might be from June.

If it were to last for just a month, it wouldn’t interfere too much with the summer holiday season. Take it into July and August as well and summer will be abysmal for the travel industry.

Whenever I listed to O’Leary, I come away feeling confident that travel and tourism will re-start soon and bounce-back, such is the ability of the man to paint appealing pictures with his voice.

He has been right in the past; deeply discounted sales have changed travel. But this time he is fighting people’s perceptions of whether it is safe to fly rather than just appealing to their wallets.

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