In a statement, Ryanair said it recently announced its reduced winter schedule, which took its capacity down to 40% compared to last year.

“As a result of continuous Government mismanagement and a complete collapse in travel demand, additional cuts regrettably had to be made across our Irish airports,” it said.

“From November 14 to December 12, Ryanair will only operate from Dublin Airport in Ireland, but operations will resume on 13 December ahead of the Christmas season to allow Irish families to reunite,” it added.

Ireland West Airport said today it will close for four weeks, from 14 November to 13 December, as a result of the Ryanair suspension of flights from the Co Mayo airport.

The suspension of flights is due to a collapse in travel demand as a result of the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the current travel restrictions in place.

Ireland West Airport said the move was a further devastating blow for the airport and its staff.

It would have been due to operate 31 weekly services to six different destinations across the UK and Europe this winter. These routes were initially reduced to 16 services a week and then down to seven a week.

Passenger numbers at the airport have plummeted by over 90% with annual passenger numbers now expected to decline to less than 150,000 for the full year, the lowest in more than 20 years.

Niall MacCarthy, Managing Director at Cork Airport, said the news that Ryanair will cancel all flights from Cork Airport from the start of November to the middle of December is a further body blow to the Irish aviation industry and to Cork and the south of Ireland in particular.

Mr MacCarthy said Cork Airport still expects at this stage to have between 14 and 18 flights per week with KLM and Aer Lingus serving Amsterdam and Heathrow.

“However our passenger numbers for November this year are likely to be 9,000 versus 172,000 in the same month last year, a decrease of 95%,” he stated.

Mary Considine, the CEO of Shannon Group, said Ryanair’s decision to temporarily halt all of its flights from Shannon for over a month was “extremely disappointing”.

Ms Considine said the latest development comes less than two weeks after the airline announced it would temporarily close its Cork and Shannon hubs for winter.

“It is a further illustration of the devastating impact of the pandemic on the aviation sector. This latest development effectively means we will have no scheduled services at Shannon for a month,” she said.

She also called for an urgent financial lifeline for Shannon Airport and a support package for the aviation sector in the National Economic Plan to be announced next month.

Shannon Airport will remain open to service cargo, general aviation, transit business and to facilitate hangar movements.

Ryanair Chief Executive Eddie Wilson said the aviation situation is so bad that the country’s second city, Cork, will have no Ryanair flight in or out for a five-week period.

Speaking at the Oireachtas Transport Committee today, the Ryanair CEO said there are some flights on sale for next summer, but added that there is a reasonable chance that the bases in Cork and Shannon will not re-open.

He said he was worried that the Government would fudge the issue and introduce a traffic light system that will disadvantage Ireland to other European countries.

Pre-departure testing at airports

The CEO of the Dublin Airport Authority told the Committee that pre-departure testing of passengers rather than quarantining should be implemented.

Dalton Philips said a recent International Air Transport Association survey found 83% of consumers say they will not travel if they have to quarantine on arrival, and 99% said they are willing to be tested to facilitate travel.

He said two thirds of European countries offer testing at airports.

He also said the DAA had secured supplies to provide for pre-departure facilities at the airport but that it had not been provided with a planning exemption to establish it.

He also said any pre-departure test should be paid for by the passenger.