Spain, Greece and Malta: Ryanair boss ‘optimistic’ for August holidays – green list hope

Travel list: Govt 'making it up as they go' says Ryanair CEO

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Hungry holidaymakers were left with even fewer destination choices than they already had, with the news ministers would be removing Portugal from the green list and adding no further nations. It was a move slammed by Michael O’Leary, Ryanair’s CEO. Despite the move, the Irish-based carrier has seen a boost in bookings from hopeful Britons eager to get away on a European break.

Dara Brady, Ryanair’s director of marketing, told that he remains “optimistic” Britons will get a holiday before the end of summer.

Though the likes of Spain, Malta and Greece have not yet been awarded green status, Mr Brady says Britons seem to be eager to search and book.

“I think over the last few weeks we’ve seen a huge surge in bookings growing from probably a low base in the region of half a million bookings a week. We’re now over one and a half million bookings a week and growing,” he said.

“I think ultimately, you know, while the green list is very narrow at the moment, and there’s a lot of nervousness in the UK we would expect that list will be extended in due course.

“We’re very optimistic that we’re going to see a strong level of flying across key summer months like July and August.

“There is a huge pent up demand and EU countries are catching up with vaccinations, the UK has done a tremendous job with their vaccination process.”

Following Portugal’s addition to the green list on May 17, Ryanair added 175,000 extra seats to the country and saw a “400 percent surge in bookings.”

While the nation has now lost its green status, Mr Brady points out the reaction of consumers shows there is “still a huge appetite” for travel.

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“I think what you will see as Greece, Malta and Spain come onto the green list is even further, appetite for bookings,” he said.

“I still think there’s a bit of nervousness around the amber list but I think people are still booking the likes of Spain.

“In particular, probably being reasonably confident that come the end of June, the picture is going to look very different than it does today and [Spain can] expect to be on the green list.”

Already Spain is welcoming back UK tourists without the need for vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test.

Though it is not clear how this may change when the EU green travel pass is launched, it shows the nation is keen to get back British tourist traffic.

Mr Brady points to the success of the vaccine roll-out as the source behind his optimism.

“I know from reading a lot of the British commentary there are some concerns around the Indian variant but certainly any of the data or certainly any lab data suggests that the vaccines are very successful against this,” he explained.

“I think that will become more evident as the data presented itself over the next couple of weeks, and as the UK continues to roll out its vaccination programme by the time we get to the end of June.”

In a bid to further boost confidence among customers, Ryanair has extended its fee-free changes policy for all new bookings made before September 30, 2021, for travel before December 31, 2021.

“You can move your booking up to two times without incurring any cost,” said Mr Brady.

“So again, it gives people the confidence to book and if your plans change well then so can your booking.”

While the recent green list change may have caused some concerns within the industry when looking throughout Europe as a whole, Mr Brady is positive all signs point to summer holidays returning before September.

“Give or take another five or six weeks and you’re going to see that number grow of people with their full vaccinations grow,” he said.

“The EU has sanctioned that anyone that’s vaccinated should be allowed travel.

“It’s pointing towards hopefully a very good summer in July and August.

“A well-deserved summer for people that have been in lockdown for a substantial period of time.”

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