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[00:00:00]

Thank you very much, Aimen, some of the tax handouts for hand sanitizer for those school bus operators, my restaurant doesn't get a handout and I have to purchase my own gallons of it, plus staff. He says that texta. But then again, you set your prices for the department, sets the rates for the school buses. It's six months since covid panic gripped the country. In that time, I've not met a single person with a cold or flu or know of anyone who had covid-19.

[00:00:26]

That's from Jerry. Well, you may not know them, but almost 1500 people have died and there are almost 30000 known cases. How many we don't detect because we're not testing that much remains to be seen. You keep mentioning wearing your mask out in a boat, I presume you mean in the fresh air. Can I ask you why you and others wear masks in the fresh air when there's no evidence that you must do so from a medical corps?

[00:00:49]

I have my mask with me, so if I find myself compromised, shall we say, by surrounded with lots of people, lots of people on the pavement, put my mask on, slip it on until I get past, and then I breathe the fresh air again. Now, the aviation industry undoubtedly has been severely impacted in the last few months by the pandemic as each country has different travel restrictions in place. It is now the first of September.

[00:01:15]

Summer season is over. So what next for airlines as they head into autumn and winter? Ryanair has had to cut the flight capacity by 20 percent for September and October and to tell us how they survive the summer and their plans for the rest of 2020 and into 2021. The CEO of Ryanair, Eddie Wilson, is on the line.

[00:01:33]

Eddie, good morning and welcome. Good morning.

[00:01:35]

How are you now? I presume this year has been nothing short of a disaster for Ryanair. How bad did it get?

[00:01:43]

Well, I mean, everybody was grounded essentially in the latter end of March and into April and May. And we only really got flying in the last week in June. But like in July and August, we ended up with a 70 percent load factor, just in excess of 70 percent in both of those months. And we were back up to 60 percent in August. But like it's now into the shoulder season and, you know, the issue of vacations are not there anymore.

[00:02:12]

And in an Irish context, now, what we're looking at is a very bleak winter. We've already dropped our capacity by 20 percent for September and October. The winter season kicks off in November. And, you know, it's look very bleak there. I mean, particularly for hoteliers who and people who rely on tourism, 300, 25000 people in this country. And we have a government policy at the moment that says if you're from places that's the largest economies in Europe, Germany, UK, France, Denmark, don't come to Ireland, you have to you have to go undergo a 14 day quarantine, even though all of those countries are below the the the rate in Ireland at the moment.

[00:02:55]

And we've had and we're sorry, but we've had you know, the Brits reacted and, you know, they've scared the people who were in Portugal thinking that if they're added to their red list, that they'll come home and won't be able to go back to work or to school or whatever, they'll have to quarantine.

[00:03:10]

So we're not alone and being cautious are we are not going to we're as it stands, if you just look at the numbers this morning, there are ten large countries in Europe that have a lower case rate per 100000 on the European Centre for Disease Control website, which I look at every day. And there is no reason why those the 14 day quarantine should be lifted and they should be put on the green list straight away. I mean, like Germany, Germany is 50 percent less than in Ireland.

[00:03:40]

It should be the other way round. We have a 14 day quarantine. You can't run an airline and plan into the winter for German tourists. Are people to go on business between those countries. If we're going to tell Irish people don't go to Germany for no scientific reason whatsoever and tell people from Germany, you can't come here. And as it turns out during the summer, what where did all the cases come from? They all came from within the country here.

[00:04:03]

They all came from there. Well, the clusters came from the meat factories. And and what should have been going on in this country was was about track and trace and doing it in the same volume that is in other countries. Rather than coming out with this narrative to tell everybody to go on their holidays at the balcony and everything will be fine when they came back. And it wasn't because once people start moving around again, then the rates are actually going to go up.

[00:04:28]

And we should have learned from that. And, you know, travel was unnecessarily fingered in this when it accounts for less than and this is the government's own statistics here, less than two and a half percent. The World Health Organisation say lockdown's don't work. And we've got a government that is sitting on a report that they commissioned themselves intercepted. I don't know whose desk it's on, but it was put together in double quick time by Chris Horn on the, you know, the best brains in aviation to come up with where and we haven't heard anything.

[00:04:56]

And now we're going to go into the winter. We're going to have to move that capacity. The out of Ireland, and it is it is tragic that we're going to find that our tourism industry is going to be on people's day on business, you can't do business if there's a 14 day quarantine that there's no scientific basis for it.

[00:05:13]

Now, the countries that you would like to see put on the green list, I mean, there are, as you mentioned, Germany.

[00:05:21]

Italy is low at the moment. Norway's low, Finland's very low.

[00:05:25]

Hungary is very well known in Italy and Hungary are already are already under on the underground, just the ones that are really united.

[00:05:33]

Let's talk about the high ones. The ones you don't want or you wouldn't feel safe with. Spain is very high at the moment. Malta is a small place and a small outbreak in Malta can skew their statistics. As we know, France, Romania, Belgium, Netherlands, Austria, even Sweden. This is Sweden higher than us. Or maybe it's just a tiny little tourist.

[00:05:56]

Sweden. Sweden is now a 23 point for Ireland at thirty point six. But like Rotterdam, look at the ones above that. What we're saying very simply is Poland and the United Kingdom, Sweden, Slovenia, Germany, Denmark, Cyprus, and I think Luxembourg and Bulgaria are all numbers lower down to thirty point six. And there is no scientific basis today. And I don't know why the government does not, at a minimum, put those countries back on the green list now because like the summer season is over, this isn't about, you know, summer holidays.

[00:06:29]

This is about business. It's about short breaks. And you cannot plan to have a schedule of flights. If you're saying to people from Germany for no good reason, say to German, why are you banned from our. Well, your rate is at twenty point two and hour. There's that thirty point six weeks. Surely that's a charter for Irish people not going to Germany and not the other way around. Like we're laughing. We're the laughing stock because of this.

[00:06:52]

They should change that today. Right. And instead of all this focus that's going on now and, you know, the the horse has bolted now on a lot of the other issues that are happening internally and within within Ireland. We and other airlines have been going on about this for the last three months. And aviation, as it turns out, was less than two and a half percent of cases that were that were being brought in. And most of those were not from weren't from within Europe.

[00:07:22]

We have deviated from European policy for no scientific reason whatsoever, like never have got this massively wrong.

[00:07:29]

Now, a number of people are asking about refunds, Eddie. One guy says he's a bit rude. Actually, our flight on the 9th of June canceled over 1100 euros still.

[00:07:41]

What about my refund? And I mean, I can replicate that with dozens of people who are saying I haven't got my refund. Reiners handling of the refunds vouchers debacle is completely put me off ever booking with them again. That's from Brian. And it goes on and on and on. You know that the screen is full of them. Why are people not getting their refunds?

[00:08:02]

Because you're get they are like, Pat, you've got a small number of people still there because, OK, you've got twenty million people that we have to deal with. And the vast majority of people have got their refunds in a lot of these cases, people have said, look, you know, they may be sitting on a voucher and are waiting for the refund to arrive. Right. What they need to do is they if you get on to our website today, if you want to, they wanted a home page, there is a red line on that you can click through.

[00:08:33]

And it says, I don't want a voucher. And if they already have a voucher and you go into that and you go on to the chatbot, you put in your your your your reference number and then you will get your refund in a lot of cases. And I've come across these because people write to me as well. And a lot of cases people will you know, people will not have actually applied for the cash refund itself. They may well be sitting on vouchers.

[00:08:56]

There may well be. And there's a large proportion of people here as well who have booked through third party screen scrapers. And we don't have there and we don't have their email addresses and we don't have their contact details because so they have a building which which comes through a screen scraper.

[00:09:12]

So call these are third parties who will actually book with Ryanair and they do that without agreement intermediary and they don't necessarily well, they won't give you the Ryanair price because obviously they have to make a book as well.

[00:09:28]

But you have a Ryanair ticket as far as you're concerned. Yeah. And yeah. And we have an obligation email address. Yeah. But I mean, we have an obligation under law to refund those passengers directly. And and what has happened is that the reason that they they swapped the email address and they actually create a virtual credit card with your name on it. A lot of people aren't aware of that. There are credit cards floating around there with their names on this.

[00:09:52]

And it means that you can't put it back onto those onto those onto those credit cards. Like it's like being locked out of your net. Lexicons are your Google account, you need to be able to you have to have a contact detail, and if you look at what's happening during covid-19, where we have, you know, health authorities who want to track down people that are there on particular flights, if you booked through a screen scraper, we don't have your contact details.

[00:10:16]

We can't we can't forward that onto the Hajazi. And that has caused a huge problem. And we've been going on about this for years. And it is only crystalised now because when aviation came to a halt in March and April, these companies there virtual, they don't have employees have them and they have a huge backlog and they've passed it on to say that, like, Ryanair are liable for that, which we are. And now we have to go through a huge verification process because, you know, you've got to send in your utility bills and all that so we can prove that you're the person.

[00:10:46]

And then Refunder. But there are 90 percent of people have got their money back. If you haven't got your money back, I like I would say one thing. If people are, you know, at the radio that isn't true or whatever is the first thing you should do is look back at the emails that you that we have sent you. Right. If the email says here you do not want your voucher, press this button, you will go on the queue and you will you should have that back within no more than 14 days.

[00:11:14]

But in a lot of cases, people haven't actually applied for the refund or they've received a voucher or they couldn't get through to the call center and they couldn't get through to the call center at the start of this because nobody was back at work. But everybody is back in this office since the 1st of June, so that that backlog is getting less and less and less every day. But I would say to people who are listening in rather than shouting at the radio, get on to the website, go on to the chat bar, put in your reference number, you will join a queue for a cash refund if you don't want to voucher that.

[00:11:46]

This the reaction, as you say, people shouting at the radio. Chris says, spend three days on the Ryanair, but with no response screen grabs to prove it. Another one utter rubbish from Ryanair blaming customers. I did that online chat for Ryanair last month, refund within two weeks. That's good news.

[00:12:02]

I suppose that's hope.

[00:12:06]

That gets a couple of strands there. Sorry for cutting across is a couple of strands there. Yeah, like if you get on to them, either onto the chat passport, I would, I would ask people to say, look at the emails that we sent you because there's a direct link that puts you into the cash refund queue and that's what they should do. And a lot of people don't open emails and you need to apply for that. Now, I have no doubt at the very start of this where it was, you know, it was very, very difficult to get through to the call centres because people weren't back at work and everybody wanted to be dealt with at the same time.

[00:12:38]

You don't have to go through that. You can now because we've got everybody back here now. You can make that application directly online and you should have it within 14 days. So that is is a promise. Now, here is the rub, I suppose, about Ryanair calling for additions to the green list and so on, how quickly things can change. I mean, last Friday, 401. Cases in Portugal this morning, about three hours ago, Hungary closed its borders, first Schengen country to do so there.

[00:13:10]

They've decided they're fearful of a second wave. So they've locked down for Schengen countries to do so.

[00:13:15]

So that's the issue, you know, with looking for things to happen, you know, using an airline metric rather than a magical metric.

[00:13:27]

Yeah. I mean, like, I think what but like, I'm using the medical metrics here. The medical metrics are that we've got nine countries, some of the largest economies in Europe and we can't do business with. And we're an island. We're not like Hungary, Hungary. You can get you can pop on the train. You can drive across the border. And they've got a you know, and they've got a their geographical position gives them other options.

[00:13:51]

We don't have those options here. And what's going to happen here is that the connectivity is going to be taken away and that connectivity is what we need on this island. And we have a report there, as I say, from some of the finest people in aviation who have contributed to that report that Chris Horn has put out there since the 7th of July. It's a government report. Why don't they implement it? We're not asking for the and we believe there should be an old EU approach.

[00:14:15]

I think the Hungarian decision is regrettable. And I think if they look at what's happened in Ireland, they'll see that it doesn't do any good for the economy. But we are facing into like one of the bleakest winters that I think we will ever see economically here, because we depend on airline connectivity. The government has given us no direction, haven't responded on the list, useless 14 day quarantines. We need to get integrated back into Europe so people can get back to doing business here.

[00:14:45]

If they don't, the capacity will leave. And the capacity on shorthold aviation, which is an essential infrastructure for this country, is controlled by two private companies ourselves and our Air Lingus. And what the government is saying to those two companies at the moment is we haven't got around to it yet. We're not going to do anything about that. And unfortunately, what's going to happen is this isn't like the electricity grid that can actually migrate to other countries very, very quickly in Ireland.

[00:15:10]

And the economy here will be the loser in a number of people still going on about refunds.

[00:15:15]

We request a refund as opposed to a voucher last May and still no sign of it. This one more worrying, perhaps. We are a fully bonded travel agent, one of many that have not been paid refunds by Ryanair and not an airline travel agent or a screen scraper, all flights for clients booked on Ryanair. So what Eddie is saying is simply not true.

[00:15:39]

Well, like, we don't well, travel agents, what we have is we have no relationships with travel agents. If you book with a group booking here and well, then you are in as part of the system here. If those people have made if travel agents have gone on the website like anyone else to make a booking and they put in the correct email address and they put in the correct credit card details for the passenger and the passenger can apply directly for the refund.

[00:16:07]

That's that's what we don't have any commercial relationships with travel agents we do this morning on the Ryanair website at the moment I come find the button that Eddie is talking about.

[00:16:18]

OK, well, if you go on blaming the customer online, somebody makes an accusation like you go to the homepage.

[00:16:26]

OK, and what you do is there's a red line at the top. And I think today there are three messages on that. And one of them says important information about refunds. And if you click on that, there is there are a number of options. Why is my refund taking so long? And then I don't want to use my voucher click. Here is one of the options down at the end of the page. You go in there, you go to the chat, but you put in your you put in your reference number and that will join the queue.

[00:16:56]

And what I would say to people is I know the people are frustrated. Look at the emails and look at the links, because some of the links that are in those emails bring you directly to the cash refund queue. We now have the people now to process those. We've got everybody back in the office here since the 1st of June, unlike most other businesses who don't still still don't have people back in the office. So it has taken us a while to do that.

[00:17:19]

But over 90 percent of people have got their cash refund. Right. OK, in that period up until the end of July. So there are difficulties there.

[00:17:28]

But look at the 10 percent go to the listed to give people a sense of this, because there's an awful lot of people very annoyed, 10 percent haven't got their cash refunds.

[00:17:37]

So what number of people is that actually?

[00:17:40]

Well, 10 percent could like what you could be looking at. There is you could be looking at close to a million right across across Europe, but the vast majority of that is online travel agents and screen scrapers. Then you've got categories like Path when you're looking at big numbers, like 20 million, for example, you've got people whose credit cards have expired. And what's happened is that we haven't been able to send that money back. We're trying to contact passengers.

[00:18:06]

We've got people who who at the very early stages, with a small number of people way back in March and April, albeit a very small number of people who, for example, did one did one flight out and didn't do the flight back. And when you when you apply for a refund, the system doesn't recognize that. You're trying to you're trying to refund for two flights when you've only taken one. So there's lots of exceptions in there. And that's what's within the 10 percent.

[00:18:30]

But the vast majority of those that are in that 10 percent are, you know, screen scrapers who advertise Ryanair fares. They have no commercial relationship here. And I want people to listen to this. What happens is that they put in the wrong email address and the wrong credit card details to frustrate this process because they're overcharging and scamming customers. Now, what's happened is the the train has come off the tracks for them because they've no way of dealing with this sort of volume.

[00:19:00]

And now we at least have a procedure in place for that. But I know that other people out there will there will be exceptions and this would get straight on. It's on the website that it's on. It's on the home page. And you click through and it's about nine different options there in relation to refunds.

[00:19:14]

OK, so someone who, for example, no longer has that credit card and have closed a particular account through which they made their booking, and one of the listeners says they want to try and get on to Ryanair to tell them about the new account that will receive the refund. What do they do?

[00:19:32]

And I'm looking through the they should they should contact Ryanair customer services. They should actually do it for the chatbot as probably the most efficient way, because with the chat chatbot, you get and you get an automatic email back to say that that has been registered. And we will work our way through that, because what happens is that we know when we try to refund that to a card that doesn't exist anymore, that bounces back to us and we're working through those people to contact them as well.

[00:20:01]

But if people really want to contact us, they should do it through the chat box.

[00:20:06]

Yeah, I'm looking at the chat about dialogue, you know. Hello, I'm the Ryanair chat board. I'll try to answer your query quickly. Please enter your question or enter help for assistance. Then I cannot answer questions about specific bookings. So please do not enter any personal details or flight information as per our privacy policy.

[00:20:24]

So so put in your put in your put in your reference number and put in the query there and everything is tied into that reference number. And then what happened, as I say, with the likes of screen scrapers, what's happened is that there's a made up email address and that's what's frustrating a lot of people here, people who have booked with who've booked like instead of going for Ryanair on the on the Google page, you'll have people who will have bought a higher placing on the Google page with the name Ryanair in it.

[00:20:54]

And sometimes people think they're booking through Ryanair and they're not.

[00:20:57]

And they should come directly on the particular screen scraper that was using your colors, even the blue and yellow. And they're going without looking like.

[00:21:07]

Yeah, like I'm looking at I'm looking here at a fact sheet where they in some cases, they overcharge for the seats by 65 percent. If they like, they overcharge for in one case, they overcharge for Ryanair, 20 CGY bags by 157 percent.

[00:21:27]

That's how they make their money. They don't they don't provide the service. They don't provide the airplanes. They don't provide the refund stuff. They don't provide anything. And what they do is they create an intermediary because they're higher on the page because they've paid Google. And when something goes wrong, they run for the hills.

[00:21:43]

OK, and we've got just one. We've got Christian responsibility.

[00:21:47]

One suggestion, you know, an awful lot of people back at work, but at the same time, you don't have an awful lot of people flying because of everybody else have been some somewhat curtailed.

[00:21:57]

Is it not possible to boost your call center numbers so that people we get we've done that as well because the call center and yes, we have we have hired extra people here as well, because what we did was right from the start, from the 1st of June, we implemented all the procedures here which screens and social distancing so that we could actually do that.

[00:22:17]

And we have we have hired extra people here. Some people here are working from home that is freed up extra space here for us to do that. So we have we have brought people in. We've taken some in-flight staff in and who are not working, you know, the full schedule at the moment and trained them up on it as well. But most of this new part is automated. Right. What is actually happening out of this is that it's all the exceptions.

[00:22:41]

The exceptions are expired credit cards, people who are waiting for refunds to happen. But like and they don't want me to say this, they haven't actually applied for the cash refund or they haven't rejected the voucher that they had. Remember, we issued vouchers to everybody back in March and April when there was nobody in the office. And like Amazon and people do this as well. They say, look, here's the quickest way of doing something. And, you know, like and rather than waiting for the money to go back to your credit card, well, you can take a voucher and you can use it straight away.

[00:23:12]

People had vouchers. And maybe like some people, when I go through some of the where you don't realize that they haven't actually applied for cash, that's why they need to look at the link in their email or else go on to the ways in there.

[00:23:24]

And the reason, yes, there is you have call centers is that not everyone is, you know, adept at doing these things. So you have a human being who listens sympathetically and helps them out on the basis, you know, that old mantra.

[00:23:37]

The customer is always right. So even when the customer is dead wrong and a lot of people are saying that you keep blaming your customers and maybe some of them to some extent are to blame.

[00:23:49]

But really the mantra should be, if you want to be, you know, good for your own business, the customer is always right and treat them well.

[00:23:58]

But we have refunders over 90 percent. I think that is a an excellent record when you look at over twenty million passengers that had to be dealt with and when most offices in this country, everybody still at home. Right. And not in the office, we got everybody back here. If you look at some of the major carriers, it's impossible to get through to them. They're not issuing any cash whatsoever. Lufthansa, Air France, none of them were issuing any cash until there until the government bailed them out with 11 billion in Germany and eight billion in France.

[00:24:32]

At least we were doing it. We were working our way through where 90 percent through the exceptions are. And they are exceptions at the moment, which are screen scraper bookings that we don't have your contact details, we don't have your credit card details or people haven't click the link on the image are in a lot of cases, haven't opened the emails that actually say here's the button that you need to press so that you get in the queue. And that queue then works its way through and then the refunds are issued, believe the CEO of Ryanair, Eddie Wilson.

[00:25:04]

Thank you very much for joining us on the program.