For signs that the travel industry is finally emerging from the slump caused by the coronavirus pandemic, look no further than the latest data released by Irish budget airline Ryanair. 

According to Eddie Wilson, the CEO of Ryanair DAC, the carrier is expected to exceed its pre-Covid passenger record in Spain for this financial year (April 1, 2022 to April 1, 2023). The company’s forecast is for 50 million passengers on Spanish routes, up four million on the same figure for the 2019 financial year. 

The figures so far this year for Europe as a whole suggest that the airline is on track to better its record. From the start of April to the end of August, it has carried 166 million passengers, well above the 149 million seen for the same period in 2019, the year before the pandemic hit. 

Passengers Boarding Ryanair Airplane
Madrid’s airport. Image Cordon Press.

Wilson, who was speaking at a press conference in Barcelona along with Spain and Portugal spokesperson Elena Cabrera, also announced on Wednesday that Ryanair will be operating 52 new routes across 29 Spanish airports. In comments reported by Spanish news agency Europa Press, he stated that from Madrid alone the airline will fly to 54 destinations, with Billund (Denmark), Faro (Portugal) and Venice (Italy) to be added to the schedule. 

Today’s announcement came amid an ongoing strike by Ryanair cabin crew in Spain, which began on August 7 and is due to last until January 8 of next year. The company representatives stated today, however, that the effect of the work stoppage has been minimal and claimed that the call by unions for stoppages is not being observed by staff. 

Cabin crew are demanding that Spanish legislation be applied to their contracts and want a wage hike. The conditions they are calling for include 22 working days of vacation a year and 14 bank holidays. 

According to the Ryanair spokesperson in Spain and Portugal, Elena Cabrera, the war in Ukraine, Covid-19 variants, energy costs and inflation will be the main risks the airline is facing this upcoming season. 

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