Low-cost airline Ryanair is to suspend 12 UK domestic and international routes, including a twice-weekly service from Liverpool, in a Brexit dispute with the CAA. Tony McDonough reports
Ryanair is to suspend its twice-weekly return flights between Liverpool Airport and Derry in Northern Ireland in a dispute with the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
On Sunday evening, what the carrier described as a “sudden change in policy” by the CAA ahead of the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31, has forced it to cancel 12 UK domestic and international routes.
Ryanair said its UK subsidiary had agreed Brexit contingency arrangements with the CAA two years ago that would allow it to keep UK traffic rights and maintain its operations from January 1, 2021. However, it now says the regulator has imposed new “impractical requirements” that it cannot comply with at just 10 days notice.
Dublin-based Ryanair did not specify what those requirements were but the FT quoted the CAA as saying that the airline was planning to use leased, foreign-owned aircraft on its UK operations.
The CAA told the FT: “It has been our longstanding 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 operations. Doing so undermines the competitiveness of the UK aviation industry.”
It added that wet leases involve aircraft being leased along with crew, maintenance and insurance. Ryanair accused the CAA of causing an “unnecessary loss of connectivity to the UK economy”.
A spokesperson for the carrier said: “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.
“We call on the CAA’s David Kendrick and his management colleagues 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.
“Sadly, the CAA does not share our vision for the UK’s connectivity and would rather have airlines jump through new unnecessary hoops while consumers face less choice, less competition and higher fares.”