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Ryanair predicts flight prices to be cheaper after coronavirus lockdown as airlines will ‘price-dump’ low fares

RYANAIR CEO Michael O'Leary claims that flights could be CHEAPER after lockdown due to an "airline price war".

It follows fears that plane tickets could double in price if airlines are forced to fly with half-empty cabins.

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 Ryanair claim that flights will be even cheaper after the coronavirus lockdowns are lifted
Ryanair claim that flights will be even cheaper after the coronavirus lockdowns are liftedCredit: Getty Images - Getty

This would mean leaving many of the seats empty, including some planes removing the option of sitting in the middle seat.

However Mr O'Leary dismissed these proposals as "mad", saying they would be "hopelessly ineffective" as well as unaffordable.

Instead, the Irish low-cost carrier backs the introduction of mandatory temperature checks and face masks for passengers and crew when flights resume, its chief executive told Reuters.

He said: "We're in dialogue with regulators who are sitting in their bedrooms inventing restrictions such as taking out the middle seats, which is just nonsense. It would have no beneficial effect whatsoever."

Reducing capacity could be felt more keenly by budget carriers, whose business models rely on squeezing productivity from fleets by installing more seats than traditional airlines and filling a higher proportion of them.

 The CEO has dismissed claims of flying with half empty cabins
The CEO has dismissed claims of flying with half empty cabinsCredit: Getty - Contributor

Ryanair are currently operating a limited schedule primarily for people stranded abroad to return home, with 99 per cent of the fleet grounded.

The limited schedule was to last from March 27 to April 2 - this has since been extended to April 23.

The airline CEO explained that flight prices are likely to plummet as soon as the lockdowns are lifted, with Ryanair steeling for an airline price war.

Brushing off forecasts of a sluggish recovery, O'Leary predicted a swift traffic rebound, with the pain coming instead from "massive price-dumping" that traditional airlines now seeking bailouts would struggle to keep up with.

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He explained: "When this thing is over there is going to be such massive discounting going on that there will be a large spike upward in travel and tourism for a period of time."

"How long it will take pricing to recover ... we think that's out into 2021, but who knows?"

When asked if 2021 would see weak profits, he said: "No. I think 2021 has every prospect of being a bumper year in terms of earnings.

"Prices will be lower, but oil prices will be lower. There will be much more incentives at airports for growth".

Ryanair flights are unlikely to return to a normal schedule to at least June.

Until then, the airline is waiving the change fee for any flights booked up to the end of May, which can be changed to a date up until the end of August.

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