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Ryanair threatens winter base closures at Ireland's Shannon, Cork: RTE

FILE PHOTO: A Ryanair logo is seen on a wing of a passenger aircraft travelling from Madrid International Airport to Bergamo Airport, Italy, January 14, 2018. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ryanair RYA.I has told staff at Shannon and Cork airports in the south of Ireland that it intends to close both bases for the winter unless the government relaxes strict travel restrictions, RTE reported on Tuesday, citing a letter from the airline.

Ryanair announced last month that it will reduce its flight capacity by a further 20% during September and October with the cuts heavily focused on France, Spain, Ireland and Sweden due to the reimposition of travel restrictions.

The Irish airline has been most critical of the approach in its home country, where unencumbered travel is only allowed to and from 10 European countries. It initiated legal proceedings against the government, questioning the legality of the curbs.

The threatened closures would affect 130 directly employed staff as well as contract workers, Irish national broadcaster RTE reported, citing a letter from Eddie Wilson, chief executive of Ryanair’s main airlines business.

An airline spokesman said it did not comment on internal communication with its staff.

Ryanair, the largest budget carrier in Europe, operates from 82 bases.

The “green list” of countries exempt from the restrictions is under review after a rise in Irish COVID-19 cases made adding countries with a similar or slightly better incidence rate too risky, the health minister said last week.

Arrivals from all other countries are legally obliged to self-isolate for 14 days, contributing to a collapse in inbound tourism since Ireland reported its first COVID-19 cases at the end of February.

Ryanair group CEO Michael O’Leary said last month that forward bookings in and out of Ireland were “terrible” as a result with a 50% year-on-year drop putting jobs at risk in its Irish operations.

Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Angus MacSwan

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