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The always lively Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary said it's "almost inevitable" that his budget airline will make workforce reductions of up to 20 percent for its winter schedule. Layoffs may come sooner if flights don't resume at the level he is hoping for in June.

Ryanair may see job losses if flights remain grounded due to coronavirus restrictions on travel beyond May, Chief Executive Michael O’Leary said on Friday in an interview with on Britain’s Sky News.

O’Leary has said that the airline group assumes flights will stay grounded until a “limited” resumption in June.

“We’ve kept almost everybody in employment at the moment, with the benefit thankfully of the various payroll support schemes … We’re topping it up where we can. So we are ready to come back pretty quickly,” O’Leary said.

“We’ve certainly guaranteed all of our people that we would maintain the payroll through April and through May. If it continues beyond that, I think we would have to look at some job losses.”

“Branson can bail himself out,” O’Leary told Sky News on Friday where he criticized Virgin Atlantic CEO Richard Branson’s effort to seek state aid.

Ryanair may have to lay off 10-20% of staff in the winter season as it will operate fewer flights due to the coronavirus crisis, Chief Executive Michael O’Leary said in a newspaper interview published on Thursday.

Citing an expected drop in flights by 20 to 30 percent in the winter schedule, O’Leary told German business daily Handelsblatt that fewer staff would be required.

“I think that job reductions by 10-20% in winter are almost inevitable,” he said. “Passengers will return, but it will take time.”

There could also be a second wave of worldwide infections, he said.

When lockdowns end, airports and planes will have to ensure rules on social distancing and protective gear. O’Leary has backed anti-virus measures but rejected calls for planes to fly one-third empty.

(Reporting by Vera Eckert, Alistair Smout. Editing by Michelle Martin, Stephen Addison)

Copyright (2020) Thomson Reuters.

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Tags: airline innovation, airlines, budget carriers, coronavirus, Michael O'Leary, richard branson, ryanair, virgin atlantic

Photo credit: A Ryanair Boeing 737-8AS plane takes off in Riga, Latvia, on March 16, 2020. Ints Kalnins / Reuters

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