Ryanair set to resume flying from Belfast International Airport on July 1

Ryanair says it will resume flying to a number of European destinations from Belfast from July 1
Gary McDonald Business Editor

RYANAIR is to resume flying from Belfast International from July 1 as it gradually resumes operations across its European network.

The Dublin-based carrier reopened its booking system for flights up to the end of September, though for now it will operate with hugely-reduced frequencies.

The routes it is selling from Belfast include the services to Milan Bergamo twice weekly from July 1, Krakow and Malaga twice weekly from July 2 and Gdansk and Warsaw Modlin twice weekly from July 4.

And the decision by Ryanair, which grounded 99 per cent of its fleet due to the coronavirus pandemic, means there is some prospect of people being able to take summer holidays, depending on how Covid restrictions are gradually lifted.

However, ministers still insist international travellers will be asked to quarantine for 14 days when they enter the UK, either in accommodation of their choice or provided by the government if there are no other options.

But Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary dismissed this as unworkable.

He said: "It's laughable that this government can come up with any plans for a quarantine that will be strict and fully enforced when already they are exempting the Irish and the French.

"It is idiotic and it's unimplementable. You don't have enough police in the UK to implement a two-week lockdown.

"What's really worrying is that a two-week lockdown has no medical or scientific basis to it in any event. If you really want to do something that's effective - wear masks."

The decision to put flights back on sale at Ryanair comes as it said it expects passenger numbers to almost halve in the current financial year as it warns that it faces a "difficult" year ahead.

The company reported a 13 per cent increase in profits to one billion euro (£890 million) for the year ending March, but expects to deliver significant losses in the current quarter.

Ryanair is currently in the midst of consultations over base closures, up to 3,000 job cuts - mainly affecting pilots and cabin crew - and pay cuts as it looks to keep its costs low in the face of coronavirus.

But it still expects to post a loss of more than 200 million euro (£178 million) for the quarter to the end of June.

It comes after profits jumped in the previous full year, as it reported a 10 per cent increase in revenues to 8.4 billion euro (£7.6 billion).

Ryanair said it expects passenger numbers for the current year to be "less than 80 million" after reducing its target of 100 million given last week, and significantly lower than its original target of 154 million.

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