The chief executive of Europe’s biggest airline Ryanair has warned Britons hoping to travel abroad to expect up to a year of flight chaos.
Eddie Wilson blamed “worst ever” traffic control delays across Europe for the latest disruption despite the number of flights still being 15 per cent lower now than before lockdown.
He told The Times: “It is the single biggest delay for all airlines by a country mile. The underlying problem across Europe — even if you have the aircraft, you’re not cancelling [flights] and you’ve got the crew — is air traffic control.”
The aviation sector has been hit by huge check-in queues, rising ticket prices and cancellations since international travel resumed in the spring. British Airways has cancelled 27,900 flights so far this summer.
Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary said he expected a combination of high oil prices and environmental charges to push the average Ryanair fare up from €40 (£34) to between €50 to €60 over the medium term.
He 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.”
The airline chief also criticised the UK government and what he branded“the disaster” of Brexit, which had stopped airlines easily recruiting European workers.
Passengers at Heathrow have been hit with cancelled flights, huge queues and lost baggage and a new schedule with fewer flights per day has been set up to try to limit future chaos.
The Ryanair boss still believes fares will rise, as he expects oil prices to remain “structurally higher” for the next four or five years, “until we can wean ourselves off Russian oil and gas”.
He added that he expects wider inflationary pressures will continue to heap pressure on the airline industry including staff costs and air traffic control charges, also highlighting rising environmental charges.