Two of the oldest bases in the Ryanair network are to close for the winter. The Irish airline has announced the closure of its long-established bases at Cork and Shannon.
Ryanair will also shut its base at Toulouse in southwest France, as it reduces its winter operation from 60 to 40 per cent of the planned winter schedule.
In addition, Europe’s biggest budget airline will reduce the number of flights operated from bases in Austria, Belgium, Germany, Portugal and Spain.
Eddie Wilson, chief executive of the airline’s main division, Ryanair DAC, told The Independent: “There’s no aviation policy in this country.
“When have you ever seen Ryanair, Aer Lingus and all the airports in Ireland saying to the government ‘We need a plan to be able to fly so we can get to restoring confidence’?
“We all know there’s flare-ups at the moment across Europe. You’ve got to give us a fighting chance to be able to return when times get better.”
The Fórsa trade union called the closure of the Irish bases “a devastating blow for crew and pilots at these bases, their families and communities, as well as for other airport staff and the economies of both regions”.
The Ryanair DAC chief executive also hit out at the UK government, and in particular communications from Grant Shapps’s Department for Transport.
“What we don’t need are press releases about ‘trailblazing,’ and ‘best in class’ and ‘world class’,” said Mr Wilson.
“We need predictability. We can’t have this flip-flopping policy. People need to know that they can book.
“It’s about hard work. It’s about coming up with a policy that airlines and the travel industry can understand.”
London set to move to Tier 2 of lockdown restrictions
Speaking on Wednesday to Abta, the travel association, the transport secretary said: “Travel and tourism [is] so vital to our national prosperity, contributing over £250 billion a year.
“Let me assure you of one thing: that fact is appreciated and understood by everyone in government even as we battle and fight the impact of coronavirus.
“It’s because the travel industry is so important that we support it with unprecedented measures.”
Mr Shapps is expected to announce the latest changes to the UK government’s quarantine policy at 5pm today.