The Irish low-cost airline Ryanair will be withdrawing its aircraft from Brussels Airport in Zaventem this winter season, resulting in one-third of the company's flights disappearing from the airport until at least March, CEO Michael O'Leary announced on Wednesday.
During the winter season, the low-cost carrier should have two planes at Brussels Airport and around 15 at Charleroi Airport but the two planes and the accompanying flights in Zaventem will now disappear, report De Standaard and VRT.
The decision will take effect from the end of September when the winter schedules begin. At the moment, it is unclear whether Ryanair will still be running operations from Brussels after this point. At Charleroi Airport, nothing will change.
Approximately 10 Ryanair pilots and 60 cabin crew members work at Brussels Airport, reports VRT. As a result, several hundred flights will be cancelled this winter.
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"Ryanair is working according to a blackmail model," Hans Elsen of the trade union told VRT in an initial reaction. "Last week, the company announced that it does not agree with the federal flight tax. That is about €10 for flights under 500 km and €2 or €4 for medium distances."
However, Ryanair's flights leaving from Belgium all fly further than 500 km. "Ryanair is fundamentally opposed to this type of tax because it calls into question its business model. The company wants to send a signal to the Federal Government that it does not agree."
Secondly, Ryanair considers Zaventem airport too expensive, Elsen says: "The company is throwing 75 families into uncertainty, they have lost their jobs here, we can look for a solution. As most of them live around Brussels, Charleroi would still be feasible, but if we have to look further, then it becomes more difficult."
"Ryanair wants to make a political statement today, but that is at the expense of those who work there."