Michael o’leary

Ruthless Ryanair could show us the future of aviation

Aviation, nuclear power and public transport — along with good restaurants, golden retrievers and hand-knitted bed socks — are, as Julie Andrews put it, a few of my favourite things. So in a week when the news is as depressing as I can remember since the dark winter of 1973-4, I might as well write about all of them. I’ll try to find points of light along the way but it’s not going to be easy. First the plight of airlines, now so extreme that it’s hard to foresee any outcome other than nationalisation for many major carriers. Even if the new ban on leisure travel ends, only pre-flight Covid

Who would want to come to Britain for a holiday now?

All logic suggests that the 14-day quarantine for arrivals from abroad really is, as Michael O’Leary of Ryanair put it, ‘a political stunt’. The best explanation is that it was conceived in Downing Street — with minimal consultation, unless someone rang Armando Iannucci, writer of The Thick of It — as a sop to focus-group xenophobia and parental anxiety, as well as a show of grip after the Dominic Cummings debacle. Its absurdity is highlighted by news that the West Indies cricket squad is now quarantined, while 122 high-goal polo players were reported to have beaten the deadline by slipping in last Saturday on a charter flight from Buenos Aires

Now is not the time to throw money at airlines

British Airways warns of 12,000 redundancies. Ryanair announces 3,000 job losses as ‘a minimum to survive the next 12 months’; Virgin Atlantic adds 3,000 more. The aero engine makers Rolls-Royce and GE talk of more than 20,000 job losses between them. Of all the sectors hard hit by pandemic, aviation is one whose prospects look blighted as far as the horizon. What should governments do about it? Global trade will return to pre-crisis levels, but business travel may never do so: why would companies bear the risk and expense when video-conferencing is so cheap and efficient? Even if vaccines against Covid-19 are available by next year, international travel will be