THE RYANAIR Chief Executive, Michael O'Leary, has confirmed that most flights will be grounded starting from today, 24 March, and that the company do not expect to operate any flights in April and May.
In a statement released by Ryanair's official social media channels, Mr O'Leary first offered an apology to everyone who has been affected by cancellations and flight bans which were implemented to help stem the spread of Covid-19 across Europe, saying these disruptions were "necessary and unavoidable".
Mr O'Leary then went on to confirm that Ryanair expects most flights to be grounded from today, Tuesday 24 March.
From this date on, Ryanair planes will be used "for rescue flights and to operate essential flights for the movement of vital medicines, personal protective equipment, and if necessary, emergency food supplies".
The statement went on to give details of what to expect if your flight has been cancelled and how to receive a refund for any cancellations, but urged people to be patient as Ryanair staff have been cut by 50% "for social distancing reasons".
"Please do not call our phonelines," Mr O'Leary asked, "as the reduced staffing will be unable to accommodate anything but the most urgent of cases, which over the coming days will be rescue flights".
A message to all Ryanair Group customers: pic.twitter.com/nzDhDt9jz4
— Ryanair (@Ryanair) March 24, 2020
While Mr O'Leary admitted that nobody knows how long the coronavirus crisis will last, "the experience in China suggests a 3-month period for the spread of the virus to be contained and reduced.
"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."
Mr O'Leary went on to thank the frontline workers battling the spread of coronavirus, and reassured people that "while the immediate future is uncertain, it is important to remember that, like all pandemics, this crisis will pass".