Air travel is an absolute mess right now, especially in Europe, where two-thirds of all airports are seeing some level of disruption. On their part, a majority of airlines have failed to strike a balance between staffing constraints and a high travel demand, resulting in a spate of cancellations. However, one of them has somehow managed to weather the storm, cancelling far fewer flights than its counterparts.
Perhaps surprisingly, this isn’t a full service airline either: the kind of carrier that should be better prepared for emergency situations, like the crisis the aviation sector currently faces. In fact, Europe’s most reliable airline is its most popular ultra low cost, usually criticized for a sub-optimal service, restrictive baggage rules, and lack of in-flight comfort.
Based on this information, you can probably already guess which one:
In 2022, Europe’s Most Reliable Airline Is…
According to data shared by OAG, a provider of digital air travel information, Ryanair was the best performing major airline for the first half of 2022, not only in Europe but worldwide. During this period, it cancelled only 0.3% of all scheduled flights, in stark contrast with full service British Airways, which axed 3.5%.
Effectively, this means that Ryanair customers were 12 times less likely to have their flight cancelled than those flying British. Michael O’Leary, Ryanair’s outspoken CEO, stated his company ‘saw the recovery coming’ and rushed to get staff back ‘early’. This might have been instrumental in mitigating the impacts of this chaotic summer of travel.
For those of you who are not frequent travelers in Europe, you may not have been introduced yet to Ryanair. This Irish carrier was founded in 1984 and has historically offered low fare tickets on popular vacation routes not only within Europe, but also a number of destinations in Western Asia and Northern Africa.
It is the European equivalent to Southwest, operating in 40 countries and connecting over 200 destinations. Ever heard someone who’s just back from their Eurotrip boasting about that unbelievably cheap, 9 euro flight tickets to Barcelona? It is very likely they have flown Ryanair or any of its main competitors – Vueling, easyJet, TUI Airways, Wizz Air etc.
On the other hand, you might have been warned traveling low cost in Europe comes at a price. Usually, you’re only sold the seat and any additional items you would like to bring on board, including small bags, involves paying extra. There are also no complimentary drinks or food, and in-flight catering is not these airlines’ forte.
Due to their lack of preparedness for the crisis – think staff shortages and logistical issues – low cost carriers have been those driving up cancellation rates in several airports. Strangely enough, Ryanair is not among them, despite its history of less-than-stellar service. Based on recent figures, it is arguably Europe’s most trusted airline right now.
What’s Behind Ryanair’s Success Story?
As we have pointed out already, lack of staff has been one of the main issues behind the latest industry woes, as airlines struggle to graduate enough pilots and flight attendants amid a renewed interest in travel. They just weren’t ready for such a pronounced increase in air traffic, after several countries reopened, dropping all Covid rules simultaneously.
CEO O’Leary attributed Ryanair’s success to its participation in the European Single Market, a privilege British competitors no longer enjoy since the United Kingdom left the European Union. According to O’Leary, Ryanair was able to benefit from ‘friction-less European labor’, unlike British Airways and other UK carriers in the wake of Brexit.
Regardless of the geopolitical reasons behind it, Ryanair’s improbable new status as a low-risk airline has not been mirrored by other EU competitors. All of the leading European airlines, such as Air France, Lufthansa, easyJet and KLM had higher cancellation rates than Ryanair, with KLM cutting as much as 5% of its flights so far in 2022 – the worst of them all.
This leads us to believe this success story has more to do with the fact that the airline has enough staff to fulfill most of its schedule, like O’Leary stated himself, as opposed to Brexit or other disruptive factors. There are no official data shared by OAG, or other aviation intelligence services, to confirm this as of yet.
Getting Insured Ahead Of Flying Is Key
There you have it: Ryanair may not be exactly world-renowned for the flight experience it offers, but it is a more reliable airline than all others in the continent at the moment. If you’re concerned about seeing one of your Europe flights get cancelled, as you should, you can insure your trip and get covered for travel disruption visiting this link.
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