Ryanair won’t give November refunds to flyers as CEO calls lockdown a ‘cover up’

Ryanair will not be offering flyers refunds on November flights despite the introduction of a second England-wide lockdown, the budget travel firm's CEO Michael O’Leary has confirmed.

From Thursday, all but essential travel will be banned for Brits under Boris Johnson’s second lockdown plans.

Despite this, Ryanair customers banking on a refund for a flight will not get their money back if the flight is still operating, Mr O’Leary said.

He told the Today programme the budget airline, which saw an 80% drop in passenger numbers during the first lockdown, has waived the change fee instead, so customers can re-book without charge.

Mr O’Leary added that the company may change their position in December and January, depending on the government’s advice.

On Wednesday, November 2, Mr O’Leary said: "If a flight is operating then no, we will not be offering refunds.

"But what customers can avail of is our change facility and we’ve waived the change fee so if they have booking in November they can change it and move it to December or January if needs be.

"But there won’t be refunds on flights that are operating and travelling."

Mr O’Leary went on to speak to BBC Radio 5 Live Breakfast host Rachel Burden about the government’s handling of the virus.

He claimed the spring lockdown "achieved nothing" and he expects the second one to accomplish "even less" when it begins on Thursday at 12.01am.

The CEO said: "National lockdown hasn't defeated Covid, that's the whole point, the lockdown at the start of the year achieved nothing, the second lockdown will achieve even less – it's just a cover-up for political mismanagement, which the Johnson government continues to deliver."

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Mr O'Leary added: "What we need is much more extensive test and tracing, the UK should setting a target of not just 500,000 people a week, it should be 5 million a week, you need much more extensive testing.

"Air travel, certainly on shorthold within the European Union can continue and has if you have passengers having a test within 72 hours of departure – that would give us assurances we're not spreading the virus in Europe.

"European governments have failed to put that in place during the first lockdown, which is why we have this second lockdown and we need to use this second lockdown to massively scale up testing because testing is the way out of or living with this virus without having these utterly failed and deeply damaging lockdowns."

Ryanair said it flew just 17.1 million passengers during the six months to September, compared with 85.7 million during the same period last year.

It fuelled a knock on effect with the airline's revenue tumbling in the same period from €1.1bn from €5.3bn in 2019.

The airline put the plunge down to travel grinding to a halt during the first lockdown, claiming passenger confidence and forward bookings "were negatively impacted by the return of uncoordinated EU government flight restrictions in September and October which heavily curtailed travel to and from much of Central Europe, the UK, Ireland, Austria, Belgium and Portugal," when they resumed.

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