Ryanair aircraft on airport ramp. Photo: Ryanair.

MIAMI – Ryanair (FR) will not refund customers for flights in November, according to CEO Michael O’Leary, even while the UK government bans all but essential travel.

According to a report by the BBC today, O’Leary said if a flight was operating, passengers would not get their money back, but they could change to a later flight without paying a fee.

Beginning Thursday, all but essential travel from the UK will be banned under a second lockdown put in place by Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Ryanair said the first lockdown and subsequent restrictions resulted in an 80% drop in passenger numbers. The airline said 17.1 million people traveled on Ryanair in the six months prior to September, compared with 85.7 million last year.

The carrier reported a €196.5m (US$228.56m) loss for the period compared with a €1.15bn (US$1.34 bn) profit last year. And it warned the situation was likely to worsen, saying it “will continue to be a hugely challenging year for Ryanair.

New Lockdown Begins November 5

England announced the new lockdown measures on Saturday. The measures will come into force on November 5 following a vote in the House of Commons on Wednesday. They will remain in place until at least December 2, though Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said restrictions could extend beyond that date. Travel is allowed only for “work, education, or other legally permitted reasons.”

Michael O’Leary – Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Passengers who have booked a flight to go on holiday during that period should not travel. But because people who have a valid reason can travel, airlines will operate a limited number of flights to certain destinations. In fact, Ryanair says it won’t cancel any of the flights it had scheduled during that period. However, the law states that passengers are entitled to a refund only if their flight is actually cancelled.

The only option for people who are booked to fly with Ryanair on a holiday during that period is to try to reschedule their booking to a Ryanair flight after December 2. There is no fee for changing bookings which were made after June 10. But there is also no guarantee that the new international travel restrictions won’t remain in place beyond that date.

Mr. O’Leary told the BBC’s Today program, “If a flight is operating, then, no. We will not offer refunds. But what customers can avail of is our change facility. We have waived the change fee so if they have bookings 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 traveling.”

Ryanair Boeing 737-8AS reg. EI-DHT on final at Naples International Airport (NAP). Photo: Marco Macca – @aviator_ita

‘No Outstanding Refunds’

Mr O’Leary also said that Ryanair had paid out all refunds to customers who had requested one following disruption to flights earlier this year. “We have refunded every single customer who has requested a refund… from March, April, May, June, and July. Every customer who has requested a cash refund from Ryanair has now received it.”

Mr O’Leary said the airline had paid out €1.5bn (US$1.74bn) in refunds amid the pandemic.

Ryanair’s revenues in the six months through September plunged to €1.1bn ($US1.28bn) from €5.3bn (US$6.16bn) last year, as air travel ground to a virtual halt after measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus were introduced.

However, when flights did resume, Ryanair said, 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.”

Featured image: Ryanair