Holidays: Michael O'Leary ‘optimistic’ for summer travel
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Holidays can be booked confidently, Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary claimed today. The airline boss spoke to BBC about his hopes for travel from the spring. “I still remain optimistic that people will be allowed to travel from May onwards,” the airline boss said.
He believes the Government target to have “everybody over 50 vaccinated by the end of May” means travel will be able to go ahead from this date.
“If you’ve vaccinated that entire group, frankly, it’s very hard to see any justification for any restrictions or lockdowns on civil liberties from the end of May onwards,” said O’Leary.
“I will therefore be much more hopeful that people can continue to make bookings for their summer holidays.”
He said he hoped travel to “Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece, in June, July, August and September,” would be able to go ahead “without restriction because of the success of the UK vaccine programme.”
O’Leary slammed Grant Shapps for his approach and the latest set of strict travel rules
“I think Grant Shapps is essentially creating a lot of noise in a vacuum,” he said, pointing out the first Covid variant was identified in the UK, not abroad.
“Remember, Grant Shapps said today, this is the way we keep the variants out – but the first variant was the Kent variant, it originated in the UK, it didn’t originate in South Africa or in Latin America, it originated in the UK,” O’Leary insisted.
The airline CEO also pointed out the Government has said it’s “going ahead with the local elections in May.”
Therefore, O’Leary reasoned, “why is it too soon to be booking summer holidays, short-haul holidays in Portugal and Spain in June, July and August?”
He also pointed out that airlines are offering flexibility when it comes to bookings so it’s worth booking now.
“I think you can book your summer holidays,” O’Leary said.
“If you’re booking on Ryanair, you can still change those bookings without any change fees, so you’re not running any risk of losing your money.”
However, he did note that refunds from Ryanair would not be possible if the flight is still going ahead.
What’s more, he warned of the risks of another ruined summer if travel cannot go ahead.
“I think it will be very difficult for the aviation industry.. and the hospitality industry and the hotels…to go through a second summer where our bookings and our revenues are destroyed,” O’Leary cautioned.
“There are many companies who will not see their way through next winter..”
O’Leary, however, is putting his faith in the Prime Minister.
“I want to take my lead from Boris Johnson,” said the Ryanair boss.
“If he tells us, as he has said publicly, all the over 50s will be vaccinated by the end of May, then frankly I think we can look forward, with some degree of optimism, to the removal of these draconian restrictions at the end of May.”
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