Popular low-cost carrier Ryanair recently launched a seat sale, where tickets to ‘amber list’ destinations across Europe cost just £5. However, there is a catch, travel on this special fare is only permitted in May and June of this year.

Travel to ‘amber list’ countries, with the list reviewed every three weeks, is heavily discouraged at present by government officials. Travel to these destinations will also require the passenger to endure a ten-day quarantine period on their return, with test to release available on day five.

Offering low fares to countries where travel is discouraged gives passengers a false sense of confidence. With the rules complex and sometimes confusing, passengers will rely on the airline to ensure there will be no nasty surprises. Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary stated on 19 May 2021 that people are booking trips in the hundreds of thousands on a daily basis, showing the faith that passengers are placing on airlines.

However, it is understandable why Ryanair has launched this sale. After reporting a £702m loss in the last financial year, the low-cost airline is desperate to fly passengers across the continent and improve cash flow.

The illusion of a ‘cheap deal’

With its sales, Ryanair is playing on passengers’ financial weaknesses caused by the pandemic. Financial concerns are high, according to GlobalData’s COVID-19 Recovery Survey*, 53% of respondents from the UK are ‘concerned’ regarding their personal financial situation. The desperation to take a trip after a year of lockdown could draw passengers to these extremely cheap fares, whilst not being aware of the restrictions that are still in place.

These cheap fares do not include the cost of multiple COVID-19 tests, which are notably high, and the loss of earnings of not being able to attend work due to quarantine measures. What seemed to be a ‘cheap deal’ could turn into a financial burden. Alongside this, there is no guarantee that a country on the amber list won’t be placed on the red list mid-holiday, causing further financial burden with hotel quarantine measures coming into play.

Passenger disloyalty could grow

The need for ‘social responsibility’ during the pandemic from companies is high, as many consumers remain uncertain regarding travel and could be taken advantage of. Some may see the continuation of Ryanair’s bold marketing strategy as a ‘step too far’, and could look to other, more transparent airlines in the future.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, passengers respect honesty and clarity, with flexible bookings appreciated. This time last year, in an earlier GlobalData COVID-19 Survey**, 36% of respondents from the UK wanted to hear initiatives on COVID-19 from brands they used. This statistic shows that UK travellers need honest communication from travel companies, alongside transparent and flexible booking policies to ensure their loyalty.


*GlobalData COVID-19 Recovery Survey of 509 UK respondents taken 2 – 6 December 2020.

**GlobalData COVID-19 Survey of 507 UK respondents taken 19 – 24 May 2020.

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