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Ryanair 'Blackmail' Catalan Regional Government

Wed 13th Jul 2011

Over recent weeks Ryanair have begun to move a number of operations from Reus and Girona airports, to Barcelona's El Prat airport, fuelling a long-standing feud between the budget airline and the Catalan Regional Government.

The airport at El Prat is claimed to have better facilities and transport connections, but is also more popular with passengers. The Region's main airport is also a more cost-effective base for their operations, costing the airline less than Girona yet serving more passengers, claim the airline, however this may yet change when prices are next renegotiated.

To this end, Ryanair are demanding more subsidies from the Government in order to keep flying into the region's 'lesser' airports of Reus and Girona, but have already cut services to the two airports considerably.

In the year to date, the airline has flown over 3.5 Million people into Catalonia - 50% of which flew into El Prat - which represents a 30.8% increase on the same period in 2010.

Of the 22 routes that Ryanair has recently cancelled at Girona, 9 have been moved to Barcelona : Flights to ​​Sevilla, Porto, Malaga, Ibiza, Edinburgh, Leeds, Las Palmas, Tenerife and Lanzarote.

Ryanair has said how it has no intention to expand operations at El Prat this year, however they will increase the number of aircraft based at the airport to 14. It is as yet unclear as to whether the intention is to expand the number of destinations offered or increase the frequency of existing routes.

The following routes have been pulled from Girona and not moved to Barcelona :The German cities of Weeze, Lübeck and Altenburg; Cagliari and Perugia in Italy, London Gardermoen (Norway), Gdansk (Poland), Stockholm (Sweden), Kaunas (Lithuania) and Aarhus ( Denmark).

Following a meeting between The Catalan Minister for Transport, Ricard Font, and Ryanair Executives last week, it seems that there is a stand off : Ryanair demanding higher subsidies for serving the lesser regional airports (with other demand such as allocation of a hangar and land to build a hotel on etc...), and the Government refusing to be drawn on potential increases to charges at El Prat.

The Catalans have accused Ryanair of 'Blackmail'.

Until the matter is resolved the uncertainty concerning flight to and from both Reus and Girona looks set to continue.

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