RYANAIR is to axe more than half its flights from Bournemouth Airport this winter.

The airline has revealed that it will cut more than one in three of its routes from the UK and Ireland this winter because of low demand, with coronavirus travel restrictions in place across Europe.

In Bournemouth, that will mean a 53 per cent reduction in flights, from 19 per week to nine per week.

The number of routes served from the Hurn site will be reduced from eight to three, with flights to Dublin, Malta and Prague dropped from the timetable this winter but expected to operate next summer.

The budget airline announced that it would only maintain up to 65 per cent of its route network between November and March.

It will close its Irish bases in Cork and Shannon, as well as Toulouse in France, during the five-month period.

Routes that survive will be served with a lower frequency of flights than normal.

Ryanair said its winter capacity will be 40 per cent of what it was 12 months earlier, compared with the 60 per cent it previously planned.

It described demand for flights as “heavily curtailed” to and from the UK, Ireland, Austria, Belgium, Portugal and much of central Europe.

This has caused forward bookings to weaken “slightly” for travel this month and “materially” for flights in November and December.

The firm said it expects to fill 70 per cent of seats on its planes.

It estimates it will fly around 38 million passengers during the 12 months to the end of March 2021, compared with 149million during the previous year.

Chief executive Michael O’Leary said: “While we deeply regret these winter schedule cuts, they have been forced upon us by government mismanagement of EU air travel.

“Our focus continues to be on maintaining as large a schedule as we can sensibly operate to keep our aircraft, our pilots and our cabin crew current and employed while minimising job losses.

“It is inevitable, given the scale of these cutbacks, that we will be implementing more unpaid leave, and job-sharing this winter in those bases where we have agreed reduced working time and pay, but this is a better short-term outcome than mass job losses.”

He added: “There will regrettably be more redundancies at those small number of cabin crew bases where we have still not secured agreement on working time and pay cuts, which is the only alternative.

“We continue to actively manage our cost base to be prepared for the inevitable rebound and recovery of short-haul air travel in Europe once an effective Covid-19 vaccine is developed.”