Friday July 20, 2012
Ryanair Cancel Services As Subsidies Are Withdrawn
Low cost airline Ryanair has announced the withdrawal of 38 weekly flights on six routes to Lanzarote from the Spanish mainland, Holland and Germany from November onwards in a move which could cut the number of tourists that they transport to the island by some 300,000 passengers a year.
Ryanair carry more passengers to the Canary Islands than any other airline, accounting for some 4.35 million tourist visits to the seven islands last year alone. The company also has a long and chequered history of playing hardball on the issue of airport taxes and subsidies – and the recent withdrawal of incentives amounting to around €10 million per year by the Canary Island tourist authorities provoked an immediate response from Ryanair, who announced cut backs on services and routes to Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura – as well as here on Lanzarote. With some observers suggesting that this could reduce tourist visits to the Canaries by as much as 1.1 million passengers a year, a fall of 26%.
Ryanair spokesperson Michael Cawley has stated that these cancellations are reversible if the Canarian authorities agree to reintroduce the incentives which were agreed with airlines in 2010 as part of a fund designed to reverse falling tourist arrivals and which were previously set to run until 2015. Whilst Ryanair’s Spanish spokesperson has ramped up the pressure even further by claiming that the withdrawal of these services could result in the direct loss of 1,100 jobs and nearly €600 million in tourist revenue.
But as cutbacks and austerity measures continue to bite hard in Spain it remains to be seen whether the Canary Island tourist authorities have sufficient financial room for manoeuvre to placate the low cost carrier.