Ryanair challenges Spanish airport fee increases

A Ryanair Boeing an the taxiway in Spain.
Bene Riobó, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Major low-cost airline Ryanair has taken a stand against Spanish airport operator Aena’s attempts to sidestep the Spanish Government’s 2021 ruling regarding a 5-year charge freeze across Spanish airports.

This ruling played a pivotal role in facilitating the rapid post-Covid recovery and growth of Spanish connectivity, tourism, and employment.

If Aena are allowed to proceed with their charge increase, this could mean airport charges will rise at every airport in Spain, including peripheral island regions like the Canaries and Balearics.

Ryanair vs. Aena

Ryanair has officially launched a formal appeal against Aena’s manoeuvre to increase airport charges, which, if successful, would result in elevated costs at every airport within Spain.

This includes not only mainland airports but also crucial peripheral island regions such as the Canaries and Balearics, where air connectivity is paramount for the well-being of local communities.

This proposed charge increase has triggered an alarm, as it could imperil Spain’s vital air connectivity and stands as the most significant threat to Spanish tourism since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.


Aena’s Previous Triumph

Up until this juncture, Aena had positioned itself as a pioneer in post-Covid traffic recovery throughout Europe. One of the cornerstones of this success was their prudent decision to maintain frozen charges in the aftermath of the pandemic until the year 2027.

This strategic move propelled Ryanair’s growth in Spain, culminating in an impressive 12% surge in passenger numbers during this Summer season alone.

With the operation of over 40 million seats across 740 routes, Ryanair’s expansion directly contributed to Spain’s economic progress and employment opportunities.

Air Connectivity and Jobs

However, Aena’s push for a charge increase poses a precarious challenge to the momentum established by Ryanair’s growth.

The airline contends that this risk endangers not only the direct jobs supported by the airline but also the extensive network of indirect jobs tied to the flourishing Spanish tourism sector.

Considering the heavy reliance of Spain’s economy on tourism, any disruption in air connectivity could have dire consequences for the country’s economic stability.

Ryanair’s Call to Action

Ryanair is rallying the support of the Spanish Council of Ministers and the Spanish Regulator (CNMC) to uphold the 2021 ruling issued by the Spanish Government, which mandated a freeze on airport charges until 2027.

The airline perceives Aena’s actions as a blatant disregard for the law and a threat to Spain’s competitiveness in the global tourism landscape.

Eddie Wilson, the CEO of Ryanair DAC, strongly voiced the airline’s concerns. He emphasized that Aena’s attempt to circumvent the charge freeze initiated by the Spanish Government contradicts the very policy that was designed to bolster growth.

The charge freeze was a strategically sound decision, positioning Spain as an attractive destination for short-haul capacity amidst a landscape of increasing scarcity.

As a direct consequence, Spain has managed to elevate itself among the leading countries in post-Covid recovery and has even surpassed its pre-pandemic capacity levels.

The Battle for Air Connectivity

The present summer season alone has seen a 12% expansion of Ryanair’s presence in Spain, enabling the operation of over 40 million seats across 740 routes.

This surge in capacity has had a positive ripple effect on the Spanish economy, benefiting both residents and tourists alike.

Should Aena be permitted to execute their charge increase plan, the repercussions would reverberate across all Spanish airports, including the crucial island regions.

From Ryanair’s perspective, this prospect jeopardizes the painstaking efforts made to reinstate crucial air connectivity, standing as a formidable threat to Spain’s tourism rebound.

In light of these developments, Ryanair has issued a plea to the Spanish Council of Ministers and the Spanish Regulator (CNMC) to champion the interests of passengers and local economies.

The carrier contends that upholding the 2021 ruling to freeze airport charges until 2027 is not only a matter of adhering to the law but also a strategic move to safeguard the impressive strides made in air connectivity and tourism resurgence.

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By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 5 Min Read
5 Min Read
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