Ryanair to cut Spain routes in tax protest
Ryanair has said it will follow through on a threat to cut its operations in Spain in protest at increased airport departure taxes in the country.
The Ryanair move, which takes effect at the end of March, will see the airline reduce its Spanish flights by 12 per cent, with the biggest cuts in Madrid, Barcelona, Seville and Valladolid. It will stop flying from the northern airports of Asturias and Bilbao.
In a press statement, Ryanair said the reductions will lead to the loss of more than 5,000 jobs and that they will cut the company’s traffic by 5.4 million passengers this year, to about 30 million.
In 2011, Ryanair was Spain’s biggest domestic carrier, according to government figures.
The company warned it would take such measures last November, but it said they are still reversible if the Spanish authorities lower airport taxes.
AENA, which owns and runs most of Spain’s airports, raised the charge in 2012 by an average of 19 per cent, although it doubled in Madrid and Barcelona, the country’s biggest airports. In 2013, the tax has been raised a further 8 per cent.
“This increase will cause severe cuts to traffic, tourism and jobs in Spanish airports,” said Ryanair spokesman Robin Kiely. “Ryanair will keep growing in other European airports and will keep offering low fares.”
AENA, which is struggling with a €14 billion debt, insists the increases are justified and within the law.
Ryanair has had a difficult relationship with Spanish authorities in recent months. In September 2012, public works minister Ana Pastor announced plans to lobby European authorities for tougher action against foreign airlines failing to comply with safety regulations.
Her comments were widely seen as being aimed at Ryanair.