Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary said it would take up to six months to reimburse passengers for flights canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
He told the BBC that the airline is struggling to process a backlog of 25 million refunds with a reduced staff.
However, he promised: “If you want a cash refund, you will receive a cash refund. “
Ryanair is expected to cut 3,000 jobs – 15% of its workforce – as it restructures to cope with the coronavirus crisis.
He said the 3,000 positions at risk were mainly pilot and cabin crew positions.
Salary cuts of up to 20 percent are likely to be made for the remaining staff, the airline added.
O’Leary told the BBC that the planned cuts were “the minimum we need to survive in the next 12 months.”
He said if no vaccine is found, “we may have to announce new cuts and deeper cuts in the future.”
The restructuring could imply the closure of some regional hubs in the UK, O’Leary said, but did not say which were threatened.
He said Ryanair hopes to announce details of the job losses and pay cuts by July 1.
O’Leary, whose salary was cut by 50% for April and May, has now agreed to extend him for the remainder of the fiscal year until March 2021.
“Addicted to grants”
Ryanair said it expected a net loss of more than 100 million euros (£ 87 million) for the first three months of the year, with further losses in the second quarter.
In a diversion from its competitors, it declared that its return to regular services would be made more difficult by competing with the flag airlines, “which will finance the sale below cost with more than 30 billion euros of illegal state aid, in violation of both EU state aid and competition rules. “
Ryanair said it entered the coronavirus crisis with almost € 4 billion in cash reserves and continued to “actively manage” these resources in order to survive the pandemic.
O’Leary described airlines such as Lufthansa, Air France and Alitalia as “addicted to subsidies crisscrossing Europe and aspiring state aid”.
Meanwhile, London Heathrow Airport, normally the busiest in Europe, said it expected passenger numbers to drop 97% in April as demand fell.
Figures dropped 18.8 percent to 14.6 million in the first three months of the year, the airport said.
But he added, “Heathrow remains open – and continues to operate safely to help people get home and to secure vital supply lines for the UK. “
Financially, it was “robust,” he said.
“Heathrow has £ 3.2 billion in cash sufficient to keep the business going for at least the next 12 months even without passengers,” he added.
Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye told the BBC Today program that until a coronavirus vaccine can be developed, airports should introduce measures to minimize infection once the blockages would begin to loosen.
“What this could include – and this must be agreed with governments and the aviation industry – is a combination of measures and that could include some sort of health check when you enter the terminal, so if it ‘is a temperature control, if you have a high temperature, you may not be able to fly,’ he said.
“When you cross the airport, you will probably wear a face mask, as people in Asia have been doing since leaving Sars. “