July 27, 2020 / 6:27 AM / 17 days ago

Ryanair will not cut UK-Spain flights after 'panicked' British quarantine move

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ryanair (RYA.I) has no plans to reduce capacity to Spain after the British government advised against non-essential travel to the country due to COVID-19, a move Group Chief Executive Michael O’Leary called a “badly managed over-reaction”.

Britain on Saturday reimposed a two-week quarantine on travellers arriving from Spain after a surge of coronavirus cases, reversing a decision to drop the requirement on July 10.

“It seems to be a badly managed over-reaction,” O’Leary said on a call with investors in which he said the British government “panicked” instead of focusing on restricting travel to specific regions with high infection rates.

“There is no scientific basis for a national restriction,” O’Leary said.

Asked if Ryanair would reduce capacity between the two countries, Chief Financial Officer Neil Sorahan told Reuters: “We have no plans to cut capacity in the medium term.”

Ryanair had seen a dip in bookings to Spain for the coming 2-3 weeks as a result of the spike in infections, with the dip becoming more pronounced over the weekend as Britain moved to impose the quarantine, O’Leary said.

It was too early, however, to say whether there would be an uptick to alternative destinations.

Ryanair will this week launch a legal challenge against a similar 14-day quarantine introduced by the Irish government, which has only exempted 14 countries, including Greece and Italy but not Spain, the United Kingdom or the United States, O’Leary said.

Reporting by Conor Humphries; editing by Louise Heavens and Jason Neely

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