Ryanair CEO, Michael O’Leary, has said it will take up to six months to deliver ticket refunds to passengers booked on flights cancelled because of the coronavirus.
He said the company was dealing with a backlog of 25 million refunds but confirmed that refunds will be available, stating: “If you want a cash refund, you will receive a cash refund.”
Mr O’Leary’s comments came as the airline prepares to cut 3,000 jobs – about 15% of its staff – as it reshapes its business in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis. Most of the job losses will be from its pilot and cabin crew members. Ryanair expects its other staff will have to take pay cuts of up to 20%. Mr O’Leary has taken a 50% pay cut that will run through to the end on this financial year.
He said the airline hoped to announce details of job losses and pay cuts by July 1 and explained that the planned cutbacks were: “the minimum that we need just to survive the next 12 months”. He warned that more cuts may be necessary if a vaccine isn’t found and that some of its UK regional operation might have to close but did not reveal which ones he had in mind.
Ryanair is expecting to report a net loss of more than £87m for the first three months of the year, with further losses in the second quarter.
Mr O’Leary criticised some of his competitors, saying a return to normal services would be made more difficult by having to compete with flag carrier airlines, “who will be financing below cost selling with the benefit of over €30bn in unlawful state aid, in breach of both EU state aid and competition rules.” He described airlines like Alitalia, Air France and Lufthansa as “subsidy junkies running around Europe hoovering up state aid”.