Ryanair is reasonably confident that British tourists will be taking holidays across Europe in June, July and August, a ray of hope for the tourism industry amid gloom over a rise in Covid-19 cases in top destinations.
Michael O’Leary, chief executive of Europe’s biggest airline group, said his growing optimism was based on the speed of the British vaccine rollout which has given one dose to more than half the adult population already.
Following a surge in bookings from the United Kingdom and Germany, he said Ryanair planned to operate at 80% of a normal summer schedule in July, August and September.
“I think it is very difficult to persuade the UK population to sit at home, or holiday at home when everybody’s been vaccinated,” he told reporters.
Airlines and travel companies across Europe have started to brace for a second lost summer after politicians and scientists urged consumers not to book flights for fear of bringing new variants back into the country that could undermine the vaccine programme.
Britain currently bans all foreign travel, except for work, education or health reasons. However, the government is to review that in April and possibly allow it from May 17.
O’Leary had earlier said he was “reasonably confident that there will be unrestricted holiday travel for British families going to European beach resorts”.
The Irish low cost airline also said it was adding 26 new routes to destinations in Greece, Portugal and Spain from the UK.
“We should be reasonably confident and optimistic,” he told Sky News.
“I think there’s a reasonable prospect, higher than 50%, of the UK families will be holidaying in June, July and August, in theory, in Spain, Greece and Portugal as normal.” [Reuters]