Ryanair has announced it expects to operate no further commercial flights between 24 March and June 2020.

Europe’s biggest budget airline said its fleet is likely to be grounded for the entirety of April and May following the “unprecedented restrictions” placed on travel amid the global coronavirus pandemic.

Flight bans across Europe have now closed the continent’s skies to all but a handful of rescue flights, and Ryanair has stated that, based on the length of China’s lockdown, most travel is likely to be suspended for three months.

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“We do not expect to operate flights during the months of April and May at this time, but this will clearly depend upon Government advice, and we will in all cases comply with these instructions,” said the airline’s CEO, Michael O’Leary, in a statement.

However, the low-cost carrier said it would be offering its aircraft for repatriation flights and to move emergency food supplies, vital medicine and personal protective equipment around Europe where needed.

“As Europe’s borders become congested or closed, it’s vital Ryanair plays its part to keep vital medicines and food supplies moving,” said Mr O’Leary. 

“We are continuing to work with EU governments on rescue flights to return stranded passengers to their home country. In all cases, these flights take place under maximum safety, with daily disinfecting of aircraft, and no trolley service to minimise social contact.”

Passengers whose Ryanair flights have been cancelled due to new travel restrictions will receive an email outlining their options over the next two weeks. 

The airline has requested that customers be patient and refrain from calling, as it has reduced office staff by 50 per cent to comply with social distancing rules.

Fewer staff means they will be unable to accommodate anything but the most urgent of cases, which over the coming days will be rescue flights, according to the statement.

“While the immediate future is uncertain, it is important to remember that, like all pandemics, this crisis will pass,” added Mr O’Leary.

“We will do everything we can to keep our aircraft, our crews, and our engineering teams operational so that when Europe defeats this Covid-19 pandemic, we are ready to return to flying, to allow Europe’s citizens to go back to work, to visit friends and family, and to rebuild Europe’s tourism industry, upon which so many millions of jobs and families depend.” 

He finished: “Together, let’s all take care of ourselves, our families and our communities!”

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