Travellers face years of rising air fares, says Ryanair boss, as Heathrow braces for more flight cancellations

Michael O’Leary said Brexit had caused problems for the travel industry in recruiting European workers

Travel chaos continues as crowds gather in Gatwick airport at 4am

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has warned passengers that fares will rise because flying has become “too cheap” and the industry will be hit by rising oil prices and environmental levies.

Mr O’Leary said the average fare for a passenger with his airline will rise from around €40 to between €50 to €60 over the next five years as costs rise in the industry.

The outspoken airline chief told the Financial Times: “It’s got too cheap for what it is. I find it absurd every time that I fly to Stansted, the train journey into central London is more expensive than the air fare.”

He expects oil prices to remain “structurally high” due to Russia’s war with Ukraine and added that the industry is also facing environmental costs and inflationary pressures relating to staff costs and air traffic control charges.

Mr O’Leary’s comments come after months of disruption in the airline industry, with passengers facing significant delays, cancellations and enormous queues at airports.

Fears of a summer of travel chaos were growing last night as yet another wave of airline cancellations at Heathrow are reportedly due to be announced next week.

Michael O’Leary expects oil prices to remain “structurally high” due to Russia’s war with Ukraine

Airlines are desperately working to alter their schedules at Britain’s busiest airport, Heathrow, with British Airways thought to be the worst effected by the cancellations.

Despite continued uncertainty in the sector the government has rejected calls to bring in the armed forces to deal with the situation. A source told The Telegraph there had been no request made to the Ministry of Defence for military assistance under the civil authorities (MACA) scheme.

The source said: “A MACA won’t be happening. The military have better things to do.

“We are hopeful but not complacent [about avoiding travel chaos]. We’re doing all we can with slot alleviation and baggage handler security vetting. It’s up to industry to match bookings with staff resources.”

An additional complication for the travel industry is industrial action from disgruntled employees. Spain-based easyJet staff are planning a number of strike days during the peak summer holiday period and there are also pay rows at Paris’s Charles de Gaulle airport and from ground staff in Germany.

People queuing to check-in at Heathrow Terminal 2

The government has blamed the travel industry for the problems and accused them of cutting staff members during the pandemic and then not adeqautely replacing them as tourists rushed to head back abroad after multiple Covid lockdowns.

But Mr O’Leary said that Britain’s exit from the European Union has caused problems for the industry in recruiting European workers and described Brexit as a “disaster”.

He said: “This is without doubt one of the inevitable consequences of the disaster that has been Brexit.

“Withdrawing from the single market, just so that they can say ‘We got Brexit done’ was the height of idiocy. But then they are idiots.”

The Deparment for Transport told the FT: “It is not obvious that reaching for the lever marked ‘more immigration’ will solve the problem.”

The Independent has approached DfT for additional comment.

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