Ryanair pulls five aircraft from Girona as government deal falls through; 18 routes to be axed, 17 reduced

With a 95% share of traffic at Costa Brava’s Girona Airport, the impact of Ryanair’s reduction in Girona will be considerable. The airline has already reduced as it has moved operations to nearby Barcelona, which now has become an even larger Ryanair base.

With a 95% share of traffic at Costa Brava’s Girona Airport, the impact of Ryanair’s reduction in Girona will be considerable. The airline has already reduced as it has moved operations to nearby Barcelona, which now has become an even larger Ryanair base.

Earlier today, Ryanair announced that it is pulling five aircraft from its base in Girona on the Costa Brava as the new regional government chooses not to honour the agreement signed between the airline and the previous government.

The impact on the airport’s operations will be considerable. Ryanair hugely dominates at the airport where it handled 4,615,161 passengers in 2010 out of an airport total of 4,858,644. That is a staggering 95% share held by the Irish low-cost carrier, while the second-largest carrier in 2010 was Transavia.com at under 2%.

Passenger numbers have already begun to drop at the airport as Ryanair has moved services over to its new base at Barcelona’s main airport El Prat, 90 kilometres further south, which launched in September. Girona’s traffic declined by 34.2% and 40.4% in November and December respectively, while the January 2011 figures are down 32.5%.

As recently as October, Girona was Ryanair’s largest airport in Spain. In the short time since, it has been reduced to being the airline’s third-biggest Spanish airport after both Madrid and the emerging Barcelona base.

Month Ryanair at Girona (GRO)
Passengers / ATM : Load factor
Ryanair at Barcelona (BCN)
Passengers / ATM : Load factor
July 2010 534,036 / 3,358 : 84.1%
August 2010 559,840 / 3,409 : 86.9%
September 2010 444,718 / 2,926 : 80.4% 150,494 / 1,095 : 72.7%
October 2010 440,690 / 3,034 : 76.9% 165,991 / 1,205 : 72.9%
November 2010 206,507 / 1,590 : 68.7% 217,794 / 1,671 : 69.0%
December 2010 189,168 / 1,485 : 67.4% 205,347 / 1,547 : 70.2%
January 2011 187,606 / 1,659 : 59.8% 218,365 / 1,757 : 65.8%
Source: Derived from AENA data

Analysis of data from AENA shows that it has taken just three months for Ryanair’s load factor at Barcelona to be better than that at Girona and in January the difference was as high as six percentage points.

18 routes cancelled; 17 frequency reductions

Ryanair has already announced which routes are to take the hit. Notably, the list features a mixture of routes varying from those currently operating at high frequency, such as the currently daily flights to London Gatwick, to those not even launched yet, such as Kristianstad in Sweden.

Dropped routes (start date) Frequency reductions (start date)
Aarhus (AAR) (25 Mar 07) Alghero (AHO) (05 Feb 04)
Düsseldorf Weeze (NRN) (08 Nov 04) Birmingham (BHX) (30 Oct 03)
Gdansk (GDN) (03 May 10) Bologna (BLQ) (27 Oct 08)
Lübeck (LBC) (30 Oct 07) Bratislava (BTS) (07 Nov 07)
Ibiza (IBZ) (04 Nov 08) Eindhoven (EIN) (05 Feb 04)
Kristianstad (KID) (29 Mar 11) Frankfurt Hahn (HHN) (05 Dec 02)
Lanzarote (ACE) (28 Oct 09) Gothenburg City (GSE) (27 Mar 07)
Lille (LIL) (01 May 10) Karlsruhe Baden (FKB) (05 Feb 04)
London Gatwick (LGW) (18 Dec 08) Liverpool (LPL) (05 Feb 04)
Madrid (MAD) (28 Oct 07) Malta (MLA) (30 Oct 07)
Oslo Torp (TRF) (25 Mar 07) Marrakech (RAK) (02 Nov 07)
Perugia (PEG) (07 Jul 08) Memmingen (FMM) (29 Apr 09)
Plovdiv (PDV) (27 Mar 11) Pescara (PSR) (27 Mar 07)
Poitiers (PIS) (23 Jun 10) Poznan (POZ) (30 Oct 07)
Seville (SVQ) (02 Apr 09) Wroclaw (WRO) (31 Oct 07)
Szczecin (SZZ) (27 Mar 11) Stockholm Skavsta (NYO) (21 Feb 05)
Tenerife South (TFS) (31 Oct 07) Venice Treviso (TSF) (05 Feb 04)
Västerås (VST) (04 Jun 09)
Source: Ryanair


  1. Miquel says:

    This is something that anyone following the industry was expecting to happen sooner or later…in addition to the subsidies issue costs at GRO should drop considerable to make GRO competitive enough vs. BCN

  2. Geoff says:

    How times change! Only a year ago, Ryanair were complaining about how inefficient and expensive El Prat was, only to find a few months later that they had managed to make an agreement to use it. This made three airports in or around Barcelona. So the bubble was bound to burst one day. Those of us who have used Girona regularly, ever since Ryanair started to fly there, have marvelled how big the airport has grown now, but how that growth was totally dependent on Ryanair. So Ryanair could ask whatever it wanted from the airport, and eventually this deal was done towards the end of November extending the agreement between Girona and Ryanair for another three years. Unfortunately, there was a change of government at the end of the year, and one of the first things the incoming administration did was to examine all the previous agreements which committed it to spending money. According to the Cataunyan newspapers, all the new government did was to ask Ryanair if it could re-examine the agreement, and Ryanair said ‘right, we’re off’. This is against a background of falling receipts at Girona ever since El Prat came on line in September, although, so far there is no flight there from London.
    Quite clearly, Ryanair are playing a game plan in Spain: encourage growth at an airport, creating almost a dependency on the airline, and then you can do with the airport what you will. In regard to Miquel’s comment above: is GRO really not competitive against BCN?

  3. Alex says:

    Quite sad for Girona. I was there in october 2008, when it was Ryanair’s third biggest base and now my origin airport, East Midlands, which is a medium sized base for Ryanair has more based planes than Girona does now. Through the winter 2011/2012 season, Ryanair have only 25 routes on offer from Girona, just 3 in the UK, London-Stansted and Birmingham with Bournemouth only operting from February 2012, so infact for the majority of the winter there will be just 24 routes, 2 in the UK, a huge drop from a high of 58 routes in total.

    Also some other bad news for the Barcelona area is that Ryanair is to close its Reus base in October 2011 and will operate no flights what so ever to and from Reus from then until March 2012 at the earliest! Ryanair has said though that it is very committed to Barcelona-El Prat, so could add alot of new routes from there by next year because of this!

  4. CJ says:

    I hear / see that even Ryanir’s Stansted-Girona route is not happening post Oct 2011. Does anyone have any news?

    Surely another airline can see the opprtunity there?


  5. Barny says:

    Absolutely gutted, Ryanair pulling out of Girona has shafted my new start-up business.

    I have been visiting Girona for over 5 years and flew into Girona with my wife when it was almost just a hanger, and even then, quick and effective as it is now. But oh how it has grown and still a great airport to fly from.

    So I decided to set up a new life and new business on the Costa Brava relying on Ryanairs flights in and around Europe (especially to Stansted). Without this connection it is not always convenient to use El Prat.

    Come on Spanair, Iberian or even EasyJet take over these flights as this must be a lucrative position that Ryanair have monopolised on for too long. Seize the opportunity and rescue this excellent airport and help us locals again!

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