The Irish airline Ryanair is permanently closing its base at Brussels airport. The company had previously removed all its planes for the current winter season in Zaventem out of anger at the ‘idiotic plane tax’.
Low-cost airline Ryanair is permanently removing its two aircraft stationed at Brussels Airport. Ryanair’s management informed the unions on Wednesday. The closure threatens 59 people with losing their jobs. “Ryanair came to Zaventem to hurt Brussels Airlines, but it clearly didn’t succeed,” says Hans Elsen, secretary of the Christian trade union ACV Puls.
- Ryanair is scrapping its Zaventem-based aircraft but will continue to fly at Brussels airport.
- While four routes from Zaventem will be canceled for the summer season, three will be added in Charleroi.
- The 59 employees that Ryanair still has at Brussels Airport can probably go to Charleroi. In many cases, they will have to move.
Ryanair has already systematically reduced its permanent presence at Brussels Airport over the past two years. Eighteen months ago, the company still had four aircraft in Zaventem and around 150 employees.
As an explanation for the permanent closure, Ryanair’s management once again refers to the lack of an agreement on lower fares with Brussels Airport. Unlike many other European airports, which lowered their prices to allow air traffic to recover from the pandemic, Brussels Airport has chosen to raise prices again by 11 percent.
At the beginning of this year, Brussels Airport raised the rates that airlines pay per arriving and departing flights in response to inflation and rising labor costs. However, even without this price increase, airlines at national airports with a hub function, such as Brussels Airport, pay higher prices than at regional airports.
For larger airlines, such as Ryanair, which transport more than 200,000 passengers per year, a rate of 1.31 euros per passenger applies in Charleroi. This is more than 17 times less than the 22.36 euros charged per passengers at Brussels airport. In April, Brussels Airport will raise these prices to around 30 euros per passenger.
By departing from Charleroi instead of Zaventem, Ryanair saves up to 6,000 euros per flight. flight. These lower rates are offset by a lower level of service. Passengers have to pay 1 euro in Charleroi to use the toilet, which is free at Brussels airport.
The scrapping of aircraft based at Zaventem has little impact on the number of flights that Ryanair will operate from Brussels Airport in the coming summer season. Compared to last summer, the number of routes from Zaventem drops from 16 to 12.
At the same time, Charleroi is adding three routes this summer. As a result, the largest airline in Europe is canceling only 1 of the 122 routes it flew to and from our country last year. Brussels Airport loses the maintenance of the two planes that Ryanair still had in Zaventem.
In September, Ryanair extended its contract with Charleroi airport until 2028. The Irish airline is by far the largest customer in Brussels South and is therefore of vital importance to the local airport. ‘Unlike Charleroi, Ryanair cannot impose its will on the airport in Zaventem,’ says ACV Puls secretary Elsen.
Elsen has previously accused Ryanair of extortion. “Only when we abolish airline taxes, passenger and employee rights and the index will the richest airline be willing to return to Brussels,” he said.
On Wednesday he again condemned the ‘bizarre form of competition between Charleroi airport and Zaventem’. According to Elsen, the rates at Charleroi are now unrealistically low. “Ryanair makes good use of the cheap fares at secondary airports to make money.”
The trade unionist says he hopes Ryanair will correctly apply the Renault Act (which imposes a procedure on employers in the event of collective redundancies) so that alternative employment can be sought. It is possible, for example, in Charleroi, where Ryanair has 15 aircraft stationed.
During the current season, the redundant employees of Zaventem were seconded throughout Europe. This led to conflicts between the management and the unions, because for the cabin crew it meant being abroad for a whole week instead of being at home every night.
The 59 employees who are now at risk of losing their jobs may be able to work in Charleroi. ‘But because the rule at Ryanair is that you must be able to be at the airport in an hour, many employees who now work in Zaventem would have to move,’ says Elsen.