Turn up at the airport early and expect higher fares, Ryanair boss tells passengers

Manchester-Malaga returns on peak summer dates cost upwards of £350, including baggage

<p>Max pax: Ryanair’s specially designed Boeing 737 Max aircraft seat eight more passengers than earlier versions</p>

Max pax: Ryanair’s specially designed Boeing 737 Max aircraft seat eight more passengers than earlier versions

Passengers on Europe’s biggest budget airline this summer should turn up at the airport early, the Ryanair boss has said.

Chief executive Michael O’Leary told BBC Today: “There is no doubt: getting through airport this summer is going to be challenging.

“We’re encouraging all our customers to show up earlier, to allow more time to get through airport security, particularly in Manchester.”

In recent weeks some passengers have missed flights at Manchester airport, and some departures have been delayed, due to the length of queues.

The Ryanair boss blamed what he called the “pinch points” on airports making too many staff redundant.

“We hope to see those pinch points eliminated by the end of June in time for the peak summer period,” he said – adding that the pressure was less intense at airports such as Bristol, Glasgow and London Stansted.

Summer air fares will be “high single digits ahead” of pre-pandemic levels, Mr O’Leary said– in other words, about 8 or 9 per cent up on 2019.

The airline is offering 15 per cent more capacity for summer 2022 compared with the same spell in 2019 – which was a record summer for Ryanair.

Mr O’Leary said: “There’s so much pent-up demand from families for holidays. They’ve been locked up for 18 months or two years. There is certainly going to be a very strong return to the beaches of Europe this summer.”

Flying from Manchester to Malaga on the morning of Saturday 30 July, returning in the evening a week later, Ryanair has one seat left at a total fare of £277 – with only a small piece of hand baggage. A 20kg bag costs an additional £80.

Looking ahead to the winter, the airline chief executive said: “If there’s any further adverse news flow or adverse developments on Covid or on Ukraine, this recovery could be threatened again.

“We’re not just sure what next winter will look like it. We think it will be strong, but it may be strong at lower prices.

“There’s clearly going to be an economic downturn, there’s some fear of recession.

“In a recession the lowest-cost provider – which in the UK and in Europe is Ryanair – will do better, but we’ll do better because we can sustain lower prices.”

Meanwhile the British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa) has called for the “huge sacrifices to help the company” during the coronavirus pandemic to be recognised by Ryanair.

The general secretary of the pilots’ union, Martin Chalk, said: “Our members now need to see management acknowledge their loyalty.

“Balpa is in negotiations with management to end the Covid mitigation measures put in place over the last two years.” Michael O’Leary said: “We have, I think, a loyal and well-paid workforce here in the UK and across Europe.”

Ryanair has promised improvements in service later in 2022, “including auto check-in and airport express to facilitate faster journeys through airports”.

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