Ryanair is set to cut 3,000 jobs and the airline says passenger refunds for cancelled flights will take six months as the airline copes with the coronavirus pandemic.

Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary told the BBC that the airline was struggling to process a backalog of 25 million refunds on a reduced headcount.

The budget carrier is set to cut 15 per cent of its workforce in a restructure, with most of the losses being pilot and cabin crew jobs.

Cuts are “minimum just to survive”

The airline is also likely to cut the pay of remaining staff by up to 20 per cent. O’Leary described the planned cuts as “the minimum that we need just to survive the next 12 months.”

He warned that further cuts may be necessary if no vaccine for COVID-19 could be developed.

The restructure may involve the closure of some UK regional hubs. Further details of the job losses and pay cuts will be announced by July 1.

O’Leary took a 50 per cent pay cut for April and May and has now agreed to extend it for the remainder of the financial year to March 2021.

Carrier expected to report net loss of £87m

Ryanair said it expected to report a net loss of more than £87m (€100m) for the first three months of the year, with further losses in the second quarter.

O’Leary told the BBC that the airline’s return to scheduled services would prove difficult as it would be competing with flag carrier airlines, “who will be financing below cost selling with the benefit of over €30bn in unlawful state aid, in breach of both EU state aid and competition rules”.