Tuesday 24 March 2020 10:53 am

Coronavirus: Ryanair 'does not expect to operate flights in April and May'

Ryanair has confirmed that it “does not expect to operate flights in April and May” due to the coronavirus epidemic, a week after warning that it would ground “most, if not all” of its planes.

The budget carrier has instead offered its aircraft to all EU governments to use for repatriating civilians and to transport crucial medical equipment and supplies. 

Read more: Coronavirus: Singapore Airlines cuts 96 per cent of flights after travel ban

In a letter posted to Twitter chief executive Michael O’Leary said: ”No one knows how long this Covid-19 shutdown will last”:

“The experience in China suggests a three-month period for the spread of the virus to be contained and reduced.

“We do not expect to operate flights during the months of April and May at this time, but this will clearly depend on Government advice, and we will in all cases comply with these instructions”.

Sign up to City A.M.’s Midday Update newsletter, delivered to your inbox every lunchtime

On Sunday O’Leary told the Financial Times that he and all of the airline’s staff would take 50 per cent pay cut for the same two months in order to save cash.

As of the beginning of last week, Ryanair had about $4bn in cash, with an additional $8-10bn in undrawn credit lines and its 300 aircraft fleet. 

The letter came as the UK’s airlines await details of a specially-designed package of measures to keep them airborne during the ongoing crisis.

Read more: Coronavirus: UK airlines await government rescue package

The UK’s aviation sector has been meeting regularly with transport secretary Grant Shapps over the last week to hammer out the details of the support the industry needs.

Ryanair also announced that it had reduced office staff by 50 per cent in order to comply with the government’s social distancing instructions.