Low cost airline Ryanair is all set to bring back its Spanish routes by mid summer, it was revealed this week. The firm is hoping to resume operations on July 1st and will fill 40% of its usual routes. As such, flight frequency will be down by 60% but a number of Ryanair’s most popular routes will be resumed. The airline has been selling tickets online for the last two weeks and is waiting for the EU to lift restrictions on travel but it is generally assumed that flights will restart in July if Spain enters the ‘new normal’ phase after it completes its current phases of de-escalation. Ryanair currently has seven of its planes grounded in Alicante-Elche airport with air traffic paralyzed due to the state of alarm. Since January of this year, two million passengers have passed through the terminal which is a 47% drop on figures for January to April of 2019.
The airline ceased flights to and from Alicante in mid March. When flights resume, a series of health and safety measures will be implemented including a reduction in the number of bags checked in, online checking in of passengers, downloading a virtual boarding pass on to all passengers’ phones as well as the carrying out of temperature checks at the entrance to the airport. It is also believed that the wearing of masks during the flight will be mandatory.
In addition, the airline has specified that all of its planes are equipped with ‘HEPA’ air filters (similar to those used in hospital emergency rooms) and all the interior surfaces of planes are disinfected every night with chemical products.
The return of popular routes between Spain and the UK and Ireland, however, is subject to the lifting of restrictions on flights within Europe by governments and the application of effective public health measures at airports themselves.
According to Ryanair, starting on July 1, it will begin to fly again from most of its 80 European bases again.
The company’s CEO Eddie Wilson explained, “Ryanair believes this is the most practical date to resume its regular flight schedule, allowing friends and families to get together, travellers to return to work, and tourism-based economies, such as Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, France, among others, recover what remains of the tourist season of 2020.”
Temperature controls and face protection will be key to a safe return to operations. The company has assured that it will promote social distancing at airports and on board aircraft “whenever possible”.
On board the aircraft, Ryanair cabin crew will wear face masks and a limited catering service will be offered with prepackaged drinks and snacks during the flight, and only contactless payments accepted. Queuing to go to the bathroom on board will also be prohibited, although access to the bathroom will be provided to passengers who individually request it.
Ryanair will require all passengers flying in July and August to complete a form with details (at check-in) of the duration of their visit, as well as their address while visiting the destination country. This information will be provided to local government to help them monitor the isolation regulations that are required of visitors on intra-EU flights.