June 29, 2012
June 29, 2012
Ryanair is cutting 34 flights a week to Morocco this winter in a row over local support for its services.
Four flights a week between Stansted and Fez are among those being axed from October 1 while frequency on the Luton to Marrakech route is being reduced to two flights a week.
The no-frills carrier is closing operations at Oujda airport, reducing eight weekly frequencies at Nador, six at Fez, eight at Marrakesh and four at Tangier.
The move comes just days after it emerged that the Association of European Airlines had compiled a report alleging Ryanair has benefited from state subsidies worth hundreds of millions of euros.
The AEA document reportedly alleges Ryanair would have lost €305 million (£250 million) in the last financial year without government support.
Ryanair reported a profit of €503 million (£406 million) in the 12 months to the end of March. The budget carrier’s chief executive Michael O’Leary denied the carrier received any state aid.
The move to cut services to Morocco, which Ryanair claims will lead to a loss of 100,000 tourists, comes as the airline complained that country’s airports authority ONDA had imposed unexpected cost rises.
The airline said ONDA had refused to guarantee the continuation of the cost levels of its original deal.
Ryanair claimed ONDA had reneged on an agreement by imposing a new monopoly handling company which would result in a “massive” increase in charges.
The carrier’s deputy chief executive Michael Cawley said: “Ryanair entered into long term agreements with the Moroccan Tourism Authority and ONDA, as part of the Moroccan government’s five-year plan to grow tourism.
“Ryanair has spectacularly over-delivered on all its undertakings under these agreements, becoming Morocco’s second largest airline and ensuring the Moroccan government achieved its five year targets within an earlier timescale.
“It is regrettable that ONDA has now lost sight of the key to the success of our partnership, offering low fares based on low costs. Ryanair cannot accept cost increases as it seeks to deliver more growth to Morocco.”
He said it was “completely unacceptable” for ONDA to increase the cost of Ryanair’s operation in Morocco and “unrealistic” for the authority to expect the airline to continue to grow its business to the country.
“Consequently I regret to announce that we are making these substantial reductions which will result in up to 100,000 less tourists annually and an annual loss in tourism expenditure and job losses for the Moroccan economy of €50 million,” Cawley said.
“Ryanair will now allocate this capacity elsewhere to the many markets earnestly seeking Ryanair’s growth and that are offering long term, sustainable cost bases to underpin Ryanair’s guaranteed low fares.”