By Edward Thicknesse, cityam.com
The number of passengers flown by Ryanair and Wizz Air fell over 80 per cent for the second consecutive month in December as a dire year for the industry came to and end.
The Irish flier carried just 1.9m people last month, down 83 per cent from 11.2m the year before.
For the year as a whole, it flew just 52.1m passengers, a two-thirds drop – and its lowest total number of passengers in over a decade.
Hungarian carrier Wizz Air also saw passenger numbers slip from 3.2m to 665,000 last month. In total only 16m people flew with the airline in 2020, a drop of 58 per cent on the prior year.
Although international coronavirus travel restrictions for UK nationals were lifted in December after November’s lockdown, passenger numbers remained depressed as people elected to limit travel over the holiday period.
That was despite the government introducing a new system allowing people to half the time for which they had to quarantine after arriving in the UK.
The so-called Test and Release system enables visitors from countries not included on the travel corridor list to take a private test after five days and leave isolation if a negative result is returned.
The figures come after a rapid surge in coronavirus cases led to reports that ministers were planning to implement more stringent border controls to limit the number of cases imported from overseas.
The government was criticised yesterday for its failure to put in place such controls before, but Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said this morning that new proposals would be issued soon.
“We’ll be coming forward very shortly with new proposals on how exactly we will make sure that our borders are safe,” Gove told Sky News.
On top of the new national lockdown, the controls spell more trouble for the country’s airlines.