Ryanair cancels 28% of its routes from Girona airport
The low-cost airline Ryanair is cutting 28% of its routes from Girona airport and not replacing them with routes from other Catalan airpots. Although Ryanair promised to stay in Girona a few months ago, now the Irish airline company has accused the current Catalan Government of not respecting their agreement, for which it was receiving public subsidies. The Government is surprised by the decision and has reminded Ryanair of its current obligations.
Barcelona (ACN).- Ryanair announced this Wednesday that it would eliminate 18 routes from the Girona Costa Brava airport from May onwards. In doing so, the Irish low-cost airline will reduce its current 64 routes to 46, which represents a 28% decrease. Ryanair said the reason is due to a lack of understanding with the current Catalan Government. Ryanair\u2019s Vice President, Michael Cawleyaccussed the Catalan Government of not respecting two parts of an agreement that was reached a few months ago to guarantee Ryanair\u2019s flights from Girona. Ryanair was getting subsidies from the Catalan Government to open new routes from Girona. In addition, Cawley stated that Girona\u2019s deployment will not bring more flights to other Catalan airports. He also threatened that, from next winter, the Irish airline wants to reduce \u201Csignificantly\u201D its presence in Girona, leaving only 2 or 3 planes. Ryanair is flying from Barcelona\u2019s main airport since this winter season and it already reduced its flights from Girona and Reus.
Ryanair\u2019s decision puts the airport of Girona in a difficult position, as it was its main client. The airline will reduce the number of planes based in Girona, going from 11 to 6. However, Ryanair threatened to leave \u201C2 or 3 planes\u201D from next winter on. Next May, the number of frequencies will decrease from 300 to 194 per week. In terms of passengers, it means losing 1.7 million of passengers, going from 4 million to 2.3. The company also estimates a loss of 1,700 direct and indirect jobs in Girona. Currently there are 4,000 people employed due to Ryanair\u2019s impact. In fact, the Irish low-cost company is the main operator for Girona\u2019s Airoport (next to the tourist Costa Brava), when it has reached the 90% of its traffic. According to the company, eliminating 28% of the routes from Girona will save 270 million euros to Ryanair.
Cawley accuses \u201Cthe new Catalan Government of not respecting the renovation agreement for the next five years\u201D, which was reached with the previous Catalan Government a few months ago. Ryanair has been receiving public subsidies to open new routes and foster Girona\u2019s airport. Cawley said that any other company could do that receiving the public subsidies and applying Ryanair\u2019s model. Cawley said that \u201Cthe business was going well\u201D in Girona, after 9 consecutive years of growth.
Ryanair also criticised the 20 million euro loan that the Catalan Government gave to Spanair, which is partially owned by the Catalan Government. Spanair operates from Barcelona El Prat airport, and Ryanair started to do so this winter. Cawley stressed that while Spanair goes through difficulties, Ryanair does not receive public money to operate from Barcelona\u2019s main airport.
The Catalan Government is surprised
The Catalan Government does not understand Ryanair\u2019s decision and stated to be surprised by it. Ricard Font, the Government Director General for Transport and Mobility, recognises that the 18 cancelled routes \u201Care a serious threat for Girona\u2019s airport\u201D. Ricard Font stated that the Government was surprised by Ryanair\u2019s decision. He said that they asked Ryanair for some time to study the agreement with the last Catalan Governemnt for 2011-2016, considering the current economic context, and see how to make the payments. Font explained that Ryanair sent a fax on Friday announcing that if the money was not received before 17pm, they would answer through the press, as the company\u2019s Vice President did today. Font emphasised that the Catalan Government will not take this kind of proceedings. \u201CIf we are talking with Catalan companies about how to face the current difficult moments regarding the concrete obligations\u201D, due to the current lack of cash of the Catalan Government, \u201Cwe will not give privileges to an Irish company\u201D that has already received many public subsidies.
Girona\u2019s Airport consortium threatens to eliminate the current subsidies
According to the consortium promoting Girona\u2019s airport, Ryanair is still under a previous agreement, which expires at the end of 2011. If the Irish company proceeds with its decision to eliminate 18 routes this summer, the consortium will remind the company that it will break the current agreement and the current subsidies could be eliminated. In this agreement, Ryanair compromised to transport 5 million of passengers, as well as a fixed number of frequencies and flights in the airport.