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Budget carrier Ryanair to resume flights to Finland in July

The airline's plans depend on a number of factors, including whether travel restrictions are loosened.

Ryanairin koneita kentällä.
Ryanair planes at airport in Dublin, Ireland, where the airline's headquarters are located. Image: Paul Faith / AFP

Ireland-based budget airline Ryanair plans to resume around 40 percent of its normal flight schedules in July, the firm announced in a statement issued on Tuesday.

The airline has been operating at a minimum since mid-March, when the coronavirus crisis caused countries around the world to issue travel bans and a resulting steep decline in passenger numbers.

The company noted that its summer plans were subject to the lowering of government-imposed travel restrictions in the EU as well as the implementation of "effective public health measures being put in place at airports."

If the firm manages to ramp up operations across Europe on 1 July, Ryanair said it will maintain a daily schedule of nearly 1,000 flights.

Ryanair's flights will also gradually return to Finland in July. The firm plans to resume flights from Lappeenranta, its main airport in the country, to select destinations.

The opening of foreign flights to Finland depends on whether the government implements further restrictions on international flights beyond 14 June. At the moment, direct international flights are permitted only at Helsinki, Turku and Mariehamn, Åland airports.

Another factor that could affect the firm's restart of flights out of Lappeenranta is whether the border between Russia and Finland is opened. Nearly half of the passengers on flights out of the airport, which is near the border, have been Russian nationals.

Tickets for flights from Lappeenranta to Bergamo, Italy - near Milan - and Vienna, Austria are currently on sale, but the firm said it will make decisions regarding its level of service in Finland next week.

PPE and other precautions

In order to limit the spread of Covid-19 the firm said passengers will be encouraged to check fewer bags, use online check-in and smartphone-based boarding passes in lieu of printed ones.

Passengers will also be required to wear face masks at all times in terminals and onboard aircraft as well as have their temperatures checked upon arrival at airports.

The airline said all aircraft used will be disinfected every night with chemicals "which are effective for more than 24 hours."

"While temperature checks and face masks or coverings are the cornerstone of this healthy return to service, social distancing at airports and onboard aircraft will be encouraged where it is possible," the firm said.

Ryanair cabin crew will also be outfitted with face masks and the firm said it would be offering a limited selection of in-flight packaged snacks and drinks, but that no cash sales would be permitted.

Passengers' use of aircraft toilets will also change, as queuing will not be permitted. Instead, flyers will be required to ask for permission to use the washrooms.

Ryanair CEO Eddie Wilson said the firm plans to work closely with public health authorities to make sure it complies with effective measures to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

"Now that Europe’s States are allowing some gradual return to normal life, we expect this will evolve over the coming weeks and months. With more than six weeks to go to 1 July, Ryanair believes this is the most practical date to resume normal flight schedules, so that we can allow friends and families to reunite, commuters to go back to work, and allow those tourism based economies such as Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, France and others, to recover what is left of this year’s tourism season," Wilson said in the statement.

Ryanair is also planning a new route - from Helsinki Airport to Vienna, Austria. Tickets for those flights are already on sale, but those arrangements have not yet been confirmed by Finland's national airport operator Finavia.

According to preliminary plans, flights between Tampere-Pirkkala Airport and Budapest, Hungary will not begin until the end of September.

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