Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary is anticipating its summer 2021 short-haul flying returning to 75-80% of 2019 levels, following the recent announcements around vaccines.
This week Pfizer and BioNTech announced their vaccine, which they say can prevent nine out of 10 people getting Covid-19, is set to be put forward for emergency approval.
During an interview at WTM Virtual today, aviation expert John Strickland asked O’Leary whether he thought the stock markets’ response to the announcement had been “premature”.
“I don’t think so,” said O’Leary. “The stock market tends to look forward anyway.
“It’s only one of three or four vaccines that will be licensed this side of Christmas… there are multiple vaccines in final, phase three testing.
“So there’s going to be a wave of vaccines coming to us, certainly licensed this side of Christmas.
“I would say they’ll be widely available to the high risk groups by the end of Q1 and there’s reasonable optimism now that summer 2021 will get back to some degree of normality.
“In short-haul, I see no reason why we won’t go back to 75-80% of 2019.
“The only restriction on us will be the ability to hire and train pilots and cabin crew and have them current.”
Asked about trends, O’Leary described this winter as a “write-off”, with the question being whether airlines can “rescue some level of recovery for Christmas, and after that, it will be nothing until Easter”.
“We do need to look forward, vaccines are coming,” he added.
“Clearly the question mark is whether they’ll be here in wide scale for summer 2021. I’m reasonably optimistic they will.
“Lots of the vaccine manufacturers have been pre-manufacturing these vaccines even before they were licensed.
“There’s a sense of optimism that we’ll get the high risk groups, over-70s, healthcare workers etc. covered off in advance of summer 2021.
“Then it’s a case of how quickly can the airlines recover and get capacity back in the air.”
O’Leary concluded the interview by saying the vaccine news was the “first bit of sunshine” the industry had had.
“I would look forward to Easter and summer 2021 with a fair degree of positivity and I hope we get the Max back flying before the end of November, and then we and Boeing will begin to resume growth into summer 2021 and 2022 and we’ll all get back to what we do best and getting young people in Europe back to work.”