Ryanair has announced it will cut three routes to Spain and that it will also be reducing the number of flights to Madrid and Barcelona from the UK.
The reduction in service follows a row over a rise in taxes at both of Spain’s main airports that airlines are now forced to pay. The higher tax is part of the country’s strategy to reduce its large economic deficit.
The reduction in routes means that Ryanair will no longer fly between Manchester and Madrid, between East Midlands and Barcelona El Prat, or from Leeds Bradford to Barcelona El Prat – all will be scrapped from November onwards.
The Irish low cost carrier is also reducing capacity on 24 routes from Madrid and 22 from Barcelona; this includes flights that connect with Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool and Dublin.
Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary said: ‘Ryanair objects to the Spanish government’s decision to double airport taxes at both Madrid and Barcelona airports. Sadly, this will lead to severe traffic, tourism and job cuts at both airports this winter.
‘Ryanair’s cuts alone will cause a combined loss of 2.3 million passengers and more than 2,000 jobs at Madrid and Barcelona El Prat airports will go to other lower-cost airports elsewhere in Europe, where Ryanair continues to grow.’
Barcelona and Madrid, which are state-owned, will lose a total of 492 Ryanair flights per week between them.
Morocco routes axed
Spain is not the only destination affected. Ryanair is pulling out of Morocco in a row over airport charges and is cutting routes which add up to approximately a third of its flights to the country. Some routes will cease altogether this autumn.
The London Stansted to Fez, and Luton to Marrakech services will both stop on October 1, along with services from other European airports.
Ryanair says Moroccan airport authority ONDA has reneged on its agreement with the airline by imposing a new "monopoly" handling company which is apparently demanding a "massive increase" in charges.
Deputy chief executive Michael Cawley said: "It is regrettable that ONDA has now lost sight of the key to the success of our partnership, offering low fares based on low costs. Ryanair cannot accept cost increases as it seeks to deliver more growth to Morocco."
He claimed Ryanair had become Morocco’s second largest airline and its withdrawal would cost Morocco 100,000 tourists and €50 million in economic benefit.
"Ryanair will now allocate this capacity elsewhere to the many markets earnestly seeking Ryanair’s growth and that are offering long term, sustainable cost bases to underpin Ryanair’s guaranteed low fares," he added.
21 routes cut to the Canaries
One of the most popular winter sun timeshare destinations, the Canary Islands, has also been hit. Ryanair is cancelling 21 routes and is reducing frequency on 32 other routes, the impact of which could mean 1.1 million passengers less p.a. will be flying from the UK to the Canaries. Ryanair blames the Regional Government of the Canary Islands, saying it has reneged on its low-cost traffic growth incentive scheme agreement with Ryanair.
The fallout from these cuts will be quite substantial. Ryanair’s Canary Islands traffic will decline by over 26% from 4.35 million to 3.2 million p.a. with the loss of 1,100 local airport-related jobs.
Details of the route cuts, which are effective November 2012 onwards, are as follows:
• Gran Canaria: 7 routes are being cancelled, 8 routes will be less frequently serviced, 38 weekly flights lost. Annual traffic will be reduced by 300,000, from 1.1 million down to 800,000.
• Fuerteventura will have 4 routes cancelled, 8 routes will be reduced in frequency, 30 weekly flights will be lost, and overall annual traffic is to be reduced by 250,000, from 650,000 to 400,000.
• Lanzarote: 6 routes cancelled, 6 routes will be reduced in frequency, 38 weekly flights will go and annual traffic will fall by 300,000, from 1.1 million to 800,000
• Last but not least, for Tenerife 4 routes are being cancelled, 10 routes will suffer frequency cuts, 36 weekly flights will go altogether and annual traffic will be reduced by 300,000, from 1.5 million to 1.2 million.
Ryanair’s Michael Cawley said:
“Ryanair sincerely regrets the Regional Government of the Canary Islands’ decision to renege on its low-cost growth incentive agreement with Ryanair. Instead of more than 4.3 million passengers and the thousands of local jobs which this traffic sustains, Ryanair’s Canary Island traffic will now fall by over 26% to just 3.2m passengers a year.
“Ryanair will cut 21 routes and make frequency cuts on 32 other routes, with the loss of over 140 weekly flights. Sadly, over 1.1 million passengers per year and over 1,100 jobs will be lost on the Canary Islands to other lower cost airports elsewhere in Europe, where Ryanair continues to grow. These route and traffic cuts can be reversed but only when the Regional Government reintroduces its agreed growth incentives. Rest assured that Ryanair will keep trying.”