Ryanair announced its departure from Northern Ireland, including the closure of routes with six Spanish cities. The Irish airline has been in bad terms with the British government since the onset of the pandemic, blaming the UK executive of “lack of protection” in light of Brexit.
1. Ryanair blames United Kingdom
Ryanair issued a statement saying the British government’s refusal to reduce the Air Passenger Tax (APD) and the lack of incentives for the recovery of the two Belfast airports are at the root of the company’s decision. Moreover, the airline carrier announced that as of this winter it will cease operations from both airports.
“Ryanair’s aircraft will be relocated to other lower-cost airports in the UK and Europe from November,” the company explained in a statement.
In January, Ryanair started cutting operations in Northern Ireland, ending activities in Derry Airport. Ryanair’s routes from Belfast International have served since 2016. Prior to that, the airline company served Belfast’s downtown airport between October 2007 and October 2010.
2. Finished routes
With Ryanair’s decision, the routes between Belfast and Alicante, Malaga, Barcelona, Valencia, Mallorca, and Ibiza will end from October 30. Other routes to Poland (Krakow, Gdansk, and Warsaw), Portugal (Faro), and Italy (Milan) will cease to exist. Most of these routes are already served by other carriers, with only Gdansk and Warsaw remaining temporarily unserved. As of April 2022, EasyJet will relaunch Krakow, a Polish market with strong inbound tourism demand.
3. Bad performance
“Despite protesting Air Passenger Duty and insufficiently good financial incentives, it really comes down to performance not being up to expectations. It’s a stark reminder of how recovery is still very slow in the UK – even for leisure demand,” said James Pearson, Route Development Analyst.
Nonetheless, Michael O’Leary, Ryanair’s CEO said during a news conference in Lisbon that the company was “recovering strongly“ — faster than any other airline in Europe — and that bookings were increasing very rapidly in.