Wednesday 17 July 2019

Ryanair launches two new Irish routes, but summer of disruption looms

New winter flights are set to take off, but summer strikes by Air Traffic Controllers remain a threat

Frankfurt-Hahn Airport. Passengers board a Ryanair passenger plane. Photo by Ulrich Baumgarrten via Getty Images
Frankfurt-Hahn Airport. Passengers board a Ryanair passenger plane. Photo by Ulrich Baumgarrten via Getty Images
Pól Ó Conghaile

Pól Ó Conghaile

Ryanair today announced new winter services from Dublin to Milan Malpensa and Ireland West (Knock) to Tenerife.

The routes were revealed with the launch of its 2019/20 winter schedule, which will help grow the number of passengers travelling to and from Ireland to 17 million a year, the airline says.

A year-round service from Dublin to Gothenburg, as well as a 17pc boost in Ryanair's routes from Cork, were other highlights of the announcement.

New seasonal services from Dublin to Bordeaux (twice weekly), Bournemouth (4x), Gothenburg (2x), Kyiv (2x), London Southend (twice daily) and Pisa (2x) will operate next winter, the airline has confirmed.

Cork will see new winter services to Alicante (twice weekly), Budapest (2x), Malta (2x) and Poznan (2x) - all extensions of existing summer services.

Shannon will also see growth of 3pc, Ryanair says.

The announcements follow the airline's second profit warning in a row last month, and the shuttering of its two-year-old 'Ryanair Holidays' division this January.

Despite this, and other challenges like Brexit, higher fuel prices and an "over-capacity" of seats in the market, Ryanair remains confident about its prospects for growth, Chief Marketing Officer Kenny Jacobs told the Irish Independent.

"Irish customers and visitors can now book seats as far ahead as March 2020," he said, confirming that Irish passengers could also expect to see the first of Ryanair's new Boeing 737 Max 8-200 aircraft this April.

A "settling down" of the airline's controversial new baggage policies has seen Ryanair set a punctuality target of 90pc, he added.

The figure does not factor the threat of summer strikes and staff shortages at European Air Traffic Control (ATC) centres, which continues to loom.

"We would be flagging to our customers that it could be another bad summer for delays and cancellations," Jacobs warned.

Last year, there were 30 ATC strike days in Europe, according to Airlines For Europe, Europe's largest airline association. Strikes in Italy and Belgium have already impacted passengers in 2019, and Ryanair has joined other airlines in calling for the EU Commission to take action to prevent and alleviate such actions.

As for the kind of crew and pilot strikes that have disrupted recent Ryanair schedules, the airline is "confident" it can avoid these, Jacobs said.

"We don't expect any crew or pilot strikes this summer. No airline can ever rule it out, but we have made great progress there."

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