Irish carrier Ryanair cites a ’sudden change of policy’ from the Civil Aviation Authority for cancelling 12 UK domestic and non-European Union international routes, although the regulator insists it has a long-standing policy that UK-licensed operators should not heavily rely on wet-leasing foreign-registered aircraft for such services.
Ryanair says the requirements from the CAA – which it says were issued yesterday – makes operation of the routes impossible.
“We are disappointed to have to cancel 12 UK domestic and international [Morocco and Ukraine] routes from London, Manchester, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Belfast and Derry, because of the CAA’s unexpected policy-shift late last night,” says a Ryanair spokesperson.
The cancelled flights cover the routes the airline operates either within the UK or to points outside the EU from the UK. The routes are operated by its Ryanair UK unit.
Cirium schedules data shows the carrier serves five UK domestic routes; Belfast from London Stansted and Manchester, Derry from Liverpool and Edinburgh, and London Stansted to Edinburgh. It operates flights from London Stansted and Manchester to Agadir, Marrakech and Rabat in Morocco, and Kiev and Lviv in Ukraine.
”Ryanair UK had agreed Brexit contingency arrangements with the CAA two years ago and cannot comply with its new and impractical requirements at 10 days’ notice,” the spokesperson adds.
”We call on the [CAA] to respect this long-standing agreement and the CAA’s own established policy in order to facilitate the return of these routes as soon as possible.”
But the CAA responds by saying it is ’incorrect” to says it has changed its wet-lease policy at short notice.
”It has been our long-standing position that a UK airline with a significant presence in the UK, such as Ryanair UK does, should not rely heavily on using wet-leased, foreign-registered aircraft to undertake their operation,” says Paul Smith, director at the CAA.
”Doing so undermines the competitiveness of the UK aviation industry and the effectiveness of the regulatory regime. This is a view shared by regulators around the world and has nothing to do with our preparations for the end of the transition period, which we have planned for extensively.”
The UK has so far failed to agree a trade deal with the EU to replace the transition agreement, which expires at the end of this year.
“The decision to cancel these flights was taken by Ryanair alone. We will continue to engage with the airline on these matter as we seek to act in the best interest of consumers,” says the CAA, noting that Ryanair UK currently only has one aircraft listed on the UK’s register.