Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has said it is “highly likely” that the airline will, indeed, close its bases at Cork and Shannon airports over the winter months, despite the Government updating its 'green list' of countries unaffected by quarantine restrictions.
It is also despite a final decision on the matter not due to be made by the airline until the end of this month.
Earlier this month Ryanair said it may close the two bases over the winter season, if there was no relaxation of the Government’s quarantine rules around passengers flying into the country. If they materialise, the closures are set to affect 130 directly-employed staff.
The Government has updated its ‘green list’, with Germany amongst those included as safe countries as of next Monday. The new list comes ahead of Ireland adopting the EU’s new “traffic light” system for safe destinations, due to be introduced in mid-October.
However, Ryanair wants Transport Minister Eamon Ryan to introduce the new EU system immediately.
Speaking after Ryanair’s agm in Dublin, Mr O’Leary said: “Those two airports [Cork and Shannon] are hugely dependent on Irish people being able to travel mainly for family reasons to the UK, and in-bound visitors from Germany and Italy.”
Commenting before the issuance of the updated green list, Mr O’Leary added: “At the moment, we’re banning in-bound visitors from Germany and people can’t travel to the UK. So, if Eamon Ryan doesn’t move immediately – this week or early next week – on adopting the EU system; not on October 15 but actually from next Monday or Tuesday I think it’s inevitable. Our bookings are collapsing out of Cork and Shannon,” he said.
Ryanair also warned of further capacity cuts at Dublin Airport.
"Under the European system, 21 of the 27 EU countries would be removed from Ireland's quarantine list, most notably the UK and Germany, where the Covid case rates are significantly lower than in Ireland," Mr O'Leary said.
Aer Lingus has criticised the new green list, saying it doesn’t tally with EU proposals, as it excludes countries like the UK, Portugal and the Netherlands.
Meanwhile, Ryanair shareholders approved a €458,000 bonus for Mr O'Leary despite a call from an influential investor advisory firm to reject it.