- Ryanair to operate a limited number of flights for remainder of June
- Fuller schedules anticipated to return in July
Ryanair is taking a first step to resuming passenger operations at East Midlands Airport (EMA) with a limited schedule of flights beginning on Sunday 21 June.
Passengers arriving into EMA at 15:20 from Alicante will be the first to step inside the airport’s terminal since COVID-19 lockdown measures, introduced in March, brought an abrupt halt to non-essential passenger air travel. The first scheduled departure will be at 15:45 as the same aircraft returns to Alicante.
A total of 16 Ryanair flights to and from EMA are scheduled until the end of June. However, anyone returning to the UK from overseas must quarantine for 14 days and the current Foreign Office advice remains against non-essential travel. If a review of these measures in late June results in an easing of restrictions, passenger airlines operating out of EMA are keen to resume fuller schedules in July.
While most UK airports have seen the number of flights reduce by at least 90% since March, East Midlands (EMA) has continued operating around 60% of all scheduled flights, elevating it briefly to one of Europe’s top 10 busiest airports by flight numbers. This is because of its global express freight operation which is playing an important role in keeping trade moving and facilitating the supply of vital PPE equipment in the fight against COVID-19, as well as more people ordering goods online when shops have been shut.
As parts of the world come out of lockdown, more countries ramping up manufacturing and this is resulting in increased demand for global exports. EMA’s dedicated air cargo operation has come into its own in recent months as a lack of international passenger flights to and from the UK has meant less belly hold capacity for carrying goods. New direct cargo routes to EMA have been launched serving destinations including Hong Kong, Miami and Los Angeles.
However, EMA is both a passenger and cargo airport and looks forward to when passengers can start flying again in large numbers, once the conditions are right to do so.
Few sectors have been hit harder by the COVID-19 pandemic than aviation, travel and tourism. East Midlands Airport is not immune. In the course of one weekend back in March, the airport lost all its main passenger income streams. In response, airport staff were furloughed, and costs, fees and charges have all be re-assessed. Included within a review of car parking prices was the decision to increase rapid drop off (RDO) charges from £3 for 10 minutes to £4 for 15 minutes, when passengers return.
The first passenger flights in June will provide an opportunity for both the airline and airport to put in place measures to help make air travel safer for passengers and airport staff.
Anyone flying through East Midlands in the coming weeks and months will need to adhere to new guidance.
- People displaying symptoms of Covid-19 (high temperature, persistent cough, loss of taste or smell) should not fly.
- Passengers should check the flight status before they leave home as some schedules are still subject to change.
- Only those who are flying will be allowed inside the terminal building.
- Face coverings should be easily accessible as these must be applied before entering the terminal.
- Plenty of time must be allowed for check-in and security which may take longer than normal.
- Passengers should check the latest government travel advice and any requirements for returning passengers to quarantine or complete relevant documentation.
Travelling to the airport
- Anyone driving to the airport should note that only a limited number of car parks will be in operation. Drivers are advised to familiarise themselves with booking details and follow the signs to the correct car park.
- Due to a loss of all passenger income streams since March, the airport has had to increase prices for some services including rapid drop off (RDO).
- Drivers dropping off passengers are not permitted to enter the terminal.
Inside the airport
- Passengers should maintain social distancing as far as possible throughout their journey.
- Face covering must remain on when in the terminal. Airlines might not permit passengers to fly if a face covering is not being worn. Passengers who forget a suitable covering will be able to purchase one inside the terminal.
- Hands must be cleaned regularly using sanitising stations which have been installed throughout the airport.
- The airport is trialling the use of temperature screening technology which passengers will see on entry to the departure hall
- An enhanced cleaning regime is in place throughout the airport
- Protective screens have been installed at check-in desks, in security and at boarding gates to protect staff.
- Initially, many of the airport shops, restaurants and bars will be closed. Light refreshments will be available from a take-way facility.
Karen Smart, East Midlands Airport’s Managing Director, says: “I am delighted that we will welcome back our first passengers, even if they are few in number, this coming Sunday. This is a really positive development. I am confident that many people across the region will start using their local airport again for a quick and easy get-away to their favourite holiday destinations when conditions allow. It may take two to three years before passengers return in the numbers we had pre-COVID, but EMA will always continue to be an important gateway for both people and products.”
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