Ryanair plays an important role in the tourism industry. SUR
Further incidents last weekend involving Ryanair aircraft making emergency landings at Spanish airports have released into the open what were, until now, contained concerns within the Costa del Sol tourism industry. It comes as no surprise that alarm bells have started ringing, given the importance of the airline at Malaga airport.
Ryanair is by far the company that moves the most passengers to and from the Costa del Sol, with a significant advantage over the second most important airline in Malaga, EasyJet. Figures from the Spanish Airports Authority (Aena) website give the Irish airline a 23.4 per cent share of passenger traffic at the Malaga-Costa del Sol terminals up to the end of August. This amounts to some 2,056,703 passengers, of a total of 8,764,569 who used the airport in the first eight months of this year.
Ryanair operates direct flights between Malaga and 49 destinations out of a total of 111 airports that can be reached without a stopover from Malaga. Therefore the series of reports of emergency incidents involving the company’s aircraft has generated unease within the tourism industry which has sent out calls for the airline to comply with, and the authorities to enforce, safety regulations to prevent any uncertainty that recent events may have caused among potential passengers travelling to Malaga.
Relying on Ryanair
The Costa del Sol is just one of several holiday destinations that rely heavily on the services run by Ryanair.
Indeed a large part of the expansion of international tourism on the Costa del Sol is closely linked to an increase in flights operated by Ryanair, which stepped up its operations in 2011 by 29 per cent compared with 2010, according to the Tourism Observatory report published by the Costa del Sol Tourist Board.
It is in fact the chairman of this board, Elías Bendodo, who has called for caution and reiterated the need for the airline to comply with safety regulations to remove any doubts among passengers and professionals.
Similarly the president of the Andalusian Tourism Council (CEA), Miguel Sánchez, expressed the sector’s concerns about the reports regarding incidents with Ryanair.
“The continual problems on this airline’s planes could put passengers off and we are talking about the company that brings the greatest volume of tourists to the Costa del Sol. This situation benefits no one, not the company nor the destinations it flies to”, said Sánchez, who called for a firm hand from the authorities to prevent further incidents.
“This situation cannot go on for much longer. We are going to urge the ministry to take the necessary measures to sort out this situation”, he added.
The Chairman of the local hoteliers’ association, José Carlos Escribano, explained that safety was one of the Costa del Sol’s strengths and something that tourists value more and more highly.
“The company and the administrations have to act because there are destinations, such as ours, that could be significantly affected”, he emphasised.
“Low cost and reliable”
Meanwhile Ryanair plays down the whole issue. The airline reassures the industry that it will maintain its level of activity in Malaga for the next season.
In a statement the company points out that 93 per cent of Ryanair’s 150,000 flights worldwide in June, July and August arrived at their destination on time.
“This percentage is a new record for the airline, leader in Europe in the low cost flight sector, and which also beat its own record of passenger figures in August, with 8.9 million in total” said the statement. The firm stressed that only ten of the 150,000 flights were cancelled in the three summer months in which the airline transported 25 million passengers.
Ryanair’s director of communications, Stephen McNamara, estimated in a statement made to the Efe agency on Monday that this year the airline will have been used by more than 79 million passengers.
This he explains, is thanks to “our unbeatable formula of the lowest fares, no fuel surcharge, the most on-time flights, the lowest number of cancellations, the least lost luggage and being Europe’s number one in customer service”.
This message comes just days after Ryanair chairman Michael O’Leary accused Spain’s Minister of Development of circulating “false” information about the safety incidents over the last few months.