Girona airport goes East with direct flights to Moscow, Belgrade, Warsaw, Gdansk and Katowice

Tourists from Eastern Europe will increase their presence in Catalonia this summer season, according to experts in the sector. Girona is now linked with 60 destinations while at the same Ryanair is reducing its flights from the airport and in a dispute with the Catalan Government over subsidies. Spanair will operate Ryanair’s flight to Madrid if no other airline does it.

CNA / Tania Tapia

May 10, 2011 01:43 PM

Girona (ACN).- The Girona-Costa Brava Airport increases its destinations in the summer season while Ryanair has drastically reduced its flights from it because of a dispute with the Catalan Government. Three Eastern European airlines have announced in the last few days their new flights to and from Girona’s airport. With their arrival and opening of new routes, Girona offers 60 destinations per week to Europe and North Africa. Lluís Sala, the airport’s director, explained that “the airport’s characteristics, which allow airlines quick and simple operations, combined with the Costa Brava’s attractiveness and the accomplished tax reduction make it more attractive for companies”. In addition, Sala does not discard the imminent arrival of other new companies, with which they are currently negotiating. Transaero Airlines will link the Catalan city, next to the Costa Brava beaches, with Moscow’s Domodeodovo Airport once a week. It will be Girona’s first regular connection with Russia. The Serbian JAT Airways will fly to Girona from Belgrade several times per week during the summer months. Enter Air, from Poland, will link Warsaw, Gdansk and Katowice with Girona’s airport three times per week. It already began operating a weekly flight with Warsaw on Saturdays. From June onwards, it will also have a weekly connection with Gdansk and Katowice, also on Saturdays. Finally, the Catalan airline Spanair said it is ready to recuperate its daily flight between Girona and Madrid in the autumn if no other airline does it. This flight had already been operated by Spanair but when Ryanair began the same route, Spanair cancelled it. Now the Irish low cost carrier also cancelled other routes, following its plan to reduce its presence in Girona because of an argument with the Catalan Government [see related news] regarding subsidies.

To sum up, Ryanair has argued that the new Catalan Government does not want to honour the agreement they reached last autumn by which Ryanair would see the money already offered by the Catalan Government increase. This agreement was to start in 2011 and it foresaw public assistance to Ryanair in exchange for bringing a minimum number of tourists per year. Previous economic agreements have already been in place between the airline and the Catalan public administration regarding Girona but also with Reus Airport, through which the airline already received millions in subsidies. However, last autumn Ryanair started to operate from Barcelona’s main airport with great success, and the passenger figures in Girona were reduced. Coincidentally, problems started, as Ryanair did not want to continue having such a large presence in Girona. The Catalan Government asked Ryanair to delay the implementation of the new agreement by some months, including the first payments, and continue working with the agreement already in place, which runs until the end of the year. They also asked the airline to honour the commitment regarding the number of passengers in Girona and if they were not able to do so to re-negotiate the new agreement. The low cost’s managers reacted in a strong and drastic way: they reduced the routes and frequencies from Girona, and threatened to abandon the airport permanently. The Catalan Government asked for calm and to talk about the issue, but the Irish company refuses and demands the immediate implementation of the new agreement and to receive the money associated. Negotiations are still ongoing. Meanwhile, new companies arrive in Girona.

A weekly connection with Moscow

Transaero Airlines’ flight between Moscow and Girona will be on Friday and will only run during the summer for the moment. It will be operated with a medium-sized airplane for 101 passengers. Flights will start on June 3rd and will last until September 30th. “The new connection with Moscow is very important news for Girona as the Russian market is a very interesting one for the territory”, explained Lluís Sala, the airport’s director.

Three weekly flights with Poland

Warsaw and Girona will be linked by Enter Air each Saturday, from April to October 1st. From June onwards, it will also have a weekly connection with Gdansk and Katowice, also on Saturdays.

A minimum of two weekly flight with Belgrade

The Serbian JAT Airways already flies from Belgrade to Girona, from April 23rd last to October 29th. The route will be operated with a Boeing 737-300 on Saturday. In addition, from June 14th to October 25th, each Tuesday another flight will be added as well as on specific Thursdays and Sundays during the summer season. Serbian Tour operators have already booked 100 seats in each flight to bring tourists to the Costa Brava. Actually the positive welcoming of this route make managers not discard the option of operating it throughout the entire year. This airline connection will be the first one between Serbia and Girona’s coast, which is “well-known and appreciated by Serbs”, stated Vladimir Ognjenovic, the airline’s Chairman.