City of Derry monitoring talks as Ryanair says it has had to cancel 12 routes

City of Derry Airport is currently awaiting further clarification after Ryanair said it would have to cancel its routes from Derry and 11 other UK domestic and international routes due to what it claimed was the UK Civil Aviation Authority’s (CAA) “sudden change of policy on Sunday, December 20.”

Tuesday, 22nd December 2020, 4:31 pm
City of Derry Airport (Lorcan Doherty Photography)

Ryanair, which operates the Liverpool and Edinburgh routes to and from Derry, said that changes introduced resulted in “unjustified restrictions and makes the operation of these routes impossible”.

The operator claimed that only 10 days away from the end of the Brexit transition phase, the CAA has “inexplicably introduced new regulatory barriers in the way of Ryanair’s UK airline, forcing Ryanair UK to cancel 12 important routes from the UK’s regions at a time when they need reliable, low fare connectivity more than ever before”.

A Ryanair spokesperson 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.

“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 airline spokesperson said it was calling 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”, and claimed:

“We wish to ensure that UK consumers can continue to avail of Ryanair’s wide choice of destinations and Europe’s lowest fares after Brexit. 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.”

Responding to the statement, Paul Smith at the UK Civil Aviation Authority, said: “It is incorrect for the airline to state that the UK Civil Aviation Authority has changed its wet-leasing 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 operations. 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 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.”

City of Derry Airport is currently awaiting the outcome of those talks, with hopes a resolution can be found to allow the key routes from the Derry airport to keep operating into 2021 and beyond.