Ryanair’s decision to close its Canarian bases means that the islands are moving quickly to reduce any negative effects on tourism.
In September, Ryanair confirmed that it would close its Canarian bases on Lanzarote, Tenerife and Gran Canaria as of 8th January 2020. The announcement prompted an immediate announcement of strike action by the airline’s cabin staff and pilots, with 82 staff affected on Lanzarote.
It must be stressed that Ryanair have not abandoned the Canaries, and plenty of flights to the islands remain scheduled. However, the removal of the bases that were established eight years ago weakens the airline’s presence here, and means that early morning departures and late night arrivals will not be as common.
Ryanair has claimed that the main reason for its decision is that the routes are no longer as profitable as they were owing to costs arising from the 737 Max crisis.
At the time of writing, Lanzarote tourism professionals were planning to meet with Ryanair officials in order to try and get them to reconsider their decision. Meanwhile, other airlines are already being courted strongly.
Jet2 is one of those airlines, and the Leeds-based budget operator has already shown a strong and lasting commitment to Lanzarote. Jet2 recently announced that it will increase its Lanzarote routes from Belfast and Edinburgh from February to April next year.
The Canaries has attempted to maintain a diverse selection of flights ever since Ryanair stopped flights to Fuerteventura over ten years ago when the island’s authorities refused to pay publicity costs. The resulting lack of connections seriously affected the economy of an island that had put most of its eggs in one basket.
What is the 737 crisis?
One year ago, 189 people died when a Boeing 737 Max aircraft crashed shortly after take-off from Jakarta, Indonesia. A brand new Boeing model, the plane had been in service for just two months.
When another 737 Max crashed in Ethiopia in March 2019, killing 159 people, all planes were grounded and orders for new aircraft delayed.
If the 737 crisis is the only factor that has affected Canarian flights, then there is a good chance we could expect them to resume once the crisis is resolved, which should occur sometime next year. However, many suspect that Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary may be focusing on new markets in Eastern Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean.