Ryanair has its eye on Brussels Airlines’ slots
Ryanair, the Irish low-budget airline, wants to expand its activities in Belgium. It has its eye on Brussels Airlines’ departure and landing rights, “but Brussels Airlines refuses to give us the available slots”. That is what top man Michael O’Leary told Belga press agency during a press conference on Thursday.
Today, Ryanair has sixteen Belgium-based airplanes: fourteen in Charleroi and two in Zaventem. This summer, the company will offer 470 flights a week to 104 destinations, among them four new Mediterranean ones. Together, they represent 9 million passengers for the coming twelve months.
However, Ryanair wants to expand its activities significantly. The company has already started negotiations to get more space on the tarmac and deploy more airplanes. In the meantime, the company has started to use the famous Boeing 737 Max, which seems to be “well-accepted by crew members and passengers”.
O’Leary sees opportunities in Zaventem because – since the reorganization of Brussels Airport to a leaner airline with fewer planes – fewer slots are used. He would like to walk off with them, but, according to the Irish CEO, Brussels Airlines doesn’t want to release them. “Since the reduction of their fleet, more slots are available. I want more of them, but I can’t get them,” he grumbles.
O’Leary now has asked the Belgian government and the European competition authorities to force airlines with a reduced fleet to free some of their slots instead of “protecting them like a mother hen”.
According to him, such an obligation would lead to more fair competition in Europe in favor of travelers. It would certain airlines to hold a monopoly for particular connections. “We have the potential to grow in Belgium in 2022 if we get the opportunity to get more slots and deploy more airplanes,” O’Leary concludes.