Ryanair files complaint over Spanish airport tax hike

Ryanair has confirmed that it has filed a formal appeal against Spanish airport operator Aena’s attempts to circumvent the 2021 decision of the General Directorate of Civil Aviation (DGAC) to freeze fees for 5 years at all Spanish airports, a decision which directly contributed to the rapid recovery and growth of connectivity, tourism and employment in Spain after Covid.

According to Ryanair, if Aena is allowed to go ahead with its fee increase, this will mean airport charges will increase at all airports in Spain, including outlying island regions such as the Canary and Balearic Islands, where air connectivity is essential for local communities. With a single action, Aena endangers the vital air connectivity of Spain, which constitutes the greatest threat to Spanish tourism since Covid.

Until now, Aena has led the post-Coronavirus traffic recovery in Europe, driven, according to the airline, “by its sensible decision to keep rates frozen after the pandemic and until 2027.” In fact, Ryanair’s growth in Spain has been a direct response to Aena’s policy of freezing airport charges, with growth of 12% this summer alone, operating 40 million seats on 740 routes. Aena’s attempts to increase fees put this capacity at risk, harming jobs (direct and indirect) in the Spanish tourism sector, on which the Spanish economy largely depends.

Ryanair asks the Council of Ministers and the Spanish regulator (CNMC) to protect passenger growth by ensuring that Aena continues to respect the decision taken by the Spanish Government in 2021 to freeze airport charges until 2027. This is a blatant attempt to ignore the law, which aims to increase the competitiveness of Spain through the freezing of rates.

The CEO of Ryanair DAC, Eddie Wilson, has declared that “Aena’s attempt to circumvent the 5-year rate freeze imposed by the Spanish Government in 2021 goes against the government’s policy of supporting growth”.

He insists that “the Spanish government made the sensible decision at the height of the pandemic to impose a 5-year rate freeze at all Spanish airports, positioning itself as one of the most competitive countries in Europe to attract capacity for European flights from short distance, which has become increasingly rare throughout Europe. As a direct result of this decision, Spain is now among the leading countries for post-coronavirus recovery, and now has more capacity than in 2019.”