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Coronavirus: Ryanair and easyJet cut services to France

Budget airline Ryanair is cutting a fifth of schedule this autumn, while easyJet is reducing its UK operations and shutting down all services from one airport

Budget airline Ryanair is cutting its schedule by 20% this autumn, while easyJet is reducing its UK operations following a drop of bookings because of the coronavirus pandemic and related travel restrictions.

Flights in and out of Ireland, Spain, France and Sweden, where travel restrictions remain or have increased following a rise in cases of Covid-19, will bear the brunt of the cuts Ryanair said in a statement.

Passengers whose flights in September and October will be affected have been contacted by email explaining their options, the airline said.

Ryanair, which had restored 60% of its flights in August, had previously said that it hoped to run 70% of its normal schedule in September. It has not confirmed how the cuts will roll out.

In a statement, it said: "Proper testing at airports, and effective tracing (as is being conducted in Germany and Italy) is the only realistic and proportionate method of supervising safe intra-EU air travel while effectively limiting the spread of the Covid-19 virus.”

Easyjet, meanwhile, is cancelling its services in and out of London Southend from August 31 as it cuts its UK operations. The airport served Bergerac, Brest, Charles de Gaulle, Rodez - and was still offering flights to the end of the month to Marseille. It also offered flights to Geneva, with easy access to the French Alps.

Read more: Coronavirus: France, Germany, UK figures compared

The airline's bases at Stansted and Newcastle will also close, but the airports will remain part of its route network, though the number of flights will be scaled down.

The "very difficult decision" to no longer base crews and pilots at the three airports was caused by the pandemic and related travel restrictions, "compounded by quarantine measures in the UK," CEO Johan Lundgren said in a statement.

The moves came just days after the UK added France - its second biggest holiday market - to its quarantine list, along with the Netherlands and Malta.

The disruption to air travel came as the head of Channel crossing company Brittany Ferries has said that the UK quarantine imposed on arrivals from France is a “sledgehammer blow” to its operations, and that “without help, we may not survive this alone”.

The ferry company said 35,000 passengers either cancelled or changed reservations over the weekend.

Read more: Confusion over French reciprocal quarantine for UK arrivals

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