Ryanair has launched 15 new routes despite the “worst-summer ever” and threats to air service in the case of a no-deal Brexit.
Ryanair launched its Ireland Summer 2019 schedule in Dublin on Thursday with their chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs warning that no agreement between the UK and EU about the UK’s exit from the European Union would make flights to the UK impossible.
Echoing Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary’s statement last month, Mr Jacobs said that the risk of a no-deal Brexit grounding flights across Europe is being “underestimated.”
“Brexit we should all be worried about and talking about.
“There is no real progress until the transition agreement is signed and that gives us 20 more months of the status quo, but in the meantime there is a risk that in April next year it will not be possible to fly between the UK and Ireland,” he said.
Ryanair have blamed “staff shortages and union disputes” for 2018’s performance as the worst year on record for flight disruptions and cancellations.
Services in Ireland, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Italy and Belgium were just some of the areas that saw strikes over the summer in a conflict between the airline’s management and staff.
“It’s not because the skies are too busy, it’s because of a shortage of staff, particularly at the weekend,” Mr Jacobs said.
“Summer of 2019 could also be bad, so we will continue to make noise about this because we don’t want mistakes to be repeated.
“We’ve made good progress on union agreements, and we’re targeting to have more done by Christmas.”
Mr Jacobs also warned that weaker airlines are set to go bust, due to additional costs such as air fuel now at $85-6 (£64) a barrel, a 50% increase in the price of aviation fuel since this time last year.
Mr Jacobs said: “Oil makes up about half the cost base of any airline.
“Primerva, a Scandinavian airline have already gone bust. I think its probably fair to say, industrial relations at Ryanair was the news story, in the coming months it will be about fuel and consolidation and which airlines go bust.
“Airlines will go out of the market and capacity will be cut, which we’re already seeing in the industry.”
Despite the “turbulent” industry forecast, Ryanair were keen to stress they are confident in their new summer schedule and passenger growth.
15 new routes were launched, including connections to Gothenburg and Thessaloniki, which will deliver 16.4m customers through Dublin, Cork, Kerry, Knock and Shannon airports, which will grow the company’s Irish traffic by 3%.
“This passenger growth, if you take that 16.4m in Ryanair in Ireland alone, that would be the world’s 23rd biggest airline, so if Ryanair Ireland was it’s own separate airline, it would be bigger than Swiss, Thai, it’s now the same size as Qantas,” Mr Jacobs added.
“This gives you an idea about the importance of Ireland and the size of Ryanair’s Irish operation.”
The group now offers 150 routes in total in Ireland, with over 1,000 weekly flights and 12,500 on-site jobs.