Ryanair’s Chief Financial Officer, Neil Sorahan, has commented today that he believes airports and “various governments” needed to be held to account for not having enough staff to cope with demand. 

Friendly fire? 

Neil Sorahan has made these comments in the wake of major disruption and cancellations that have been plaguing the air travel industry in recent months. Demand for air travel peaked significantly this year, presumably more than some airlines had anticipated. Coupled with staffing shortages, airlines and airports have been struggling to keep up with the enthusiastic rate of passenger traffic. 

Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair has not struggled as much as its competitors. In late June, the carrier launched “rescue flights” to make up for the barrage of cancellations from competitors British Airways, TUI and EasyJet. In early July, the carrier boasted that June 2022 was its busiest month of record, highlighting a positive recovery from the previous two years of disruption caused by the pandemic. 

Of course, Neil Sorahan is well aware of Ryanair’s positive position, commenting that the carrier was having a “phenomenal” summer, “fully staffed” and therefore able to operate more than 3,000 flights a day. 

Ryanair is confident that it will be able to run its summer schedule as planned – all while minimising frustrating delays and disruptions for its customers.

He also told BBC’s Today programme that the biggest issue the company had faced was actually “air traffic control disruptions all across Europe.” 

Elaborating, Sorahan added:

“You have to hold ANSPs [air navigation service providers] and various governments to account in relation to not staffing up appropriately for that.” 

Passengers in line at security - London Heathrow Airport
Travellers have been subject to stressful delays, long queues and cancellations when attempting to travel in recent months. | © Frank Augstein / AP

The Ryanair CFO then targeted airports for not preparing accordingly for the wave of eager travellers after two years of restrictions: 

“Equally the airports themselves, they had one job to do too and that was to make sure they have sufficient handlers and security staff. They had the schedules months in advance. We managed to staff up for 73 additional aircrafts well in advance and it’s incumbent on the airports to get their planning better next year.” 

Neil Sorahan is not entirely alone in his thoughts, however. Airports have been criticised for not being able to cater for more flights and reacting to high passenger numbers, while airlines have been blamed for taking in more bookings than they could reasonably manage, therefore deliberately making matters even worse for themselves. 

But elsewhere, aviation industry leaders have been attempting to get more help from the government, commenting that they could be doing more now and could have done more to help the sector during the pandemic. 

What do you make of Sorahan’s comments? Are you travelling with Ryanair this summer? Comment below to share your thoughts.

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