Ryanair’s disagreement with the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) escalated dramatically last night when it was revealed that the airline plans to cancel all domestic routes and all services from the UK to non-EU countries. The low fares airline will only operate out of London Stansted and will cut its services to Morocco, Montenegro, Norway and the Ukraine.
The argument began in December 2020 over rule changes brought in due to Brexit. The Irish-owned airline had previously secured an operating license for its UK subsidiary, which would allow it to hold on to its UK traffic right once the Brexit transition period ended on January 1, 2021. But the CAA objected to the airline’s over-reliance on so-called ‘wet-leasing,’ where airlines hire aircraft and crew to operate services for them, insisting that Ryanair only use the practice on less than half of its UK services.
“It has been our longstanding 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,” the regulator said at the time.
According to industry reports Ryanair had made plans to increase the number of UK-registered aircraft from one to three within the next three months but this was rejected by the CAA, leading to the row hotting up.