Chief executive Michael O’Leary launched the airline’s summer 2017 schedule in London yesterday with two new routes to Strasbourg and Faro.
And he has unwittingly given the travel industry a boost by urging customers to start thinking about their summer holidays as early as possible as factors combine to make summer 2017 look more busy than ever.
First, he warned that capacity had been cut in the UK following the Brexit vote in June. The airline had originally planned to carry 50 million passengers.
However, this has now been cut to 44.5 million while plans to base 10 more aircraft in the UK have also been dropped with the aircraft deployed to other European countries expected to show higher growth.
O’Leary said: “The [UK] growth rate will slip from 15% to 6% over the coming year.”
While price cuts of between 10% and 12% have been introduced to stimulate UK demand, he said they have had the desired affect, adding: “(Web) traffic is up by 30% and British consumers are driving that.
“Spanish hoteliers are saying they are taking unprecedented numbers of bookings for 2017.”
While UK demand is already strong, O’Leary said factors in the eastern Mediterranean, with security increasingly becoming an issue, will also make summer capacity scarcer than ever in popular destinations like Spain.
He added: “We’ve got about 30 million Germans who used to go to Turkey who are less inclined to go there anymore.”
O’Leary also urged the government react to the Brexit vote by not building one new runway in the south east, but three with one each for Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted.
He added: “[This] will finally resolve the runway capacity issue for the next 50 years, while ensuring the competition between airports delivers efficient facilities and prevents airlines and passengers being ripped off by gold-plated monopoly runways.”