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Algarve hotel industry expresses great concern at news of Ryanair base closure

swimming poolThe news of of Ryanair’s operations base close at Faro Airport at the beginning of next year “makes us very worried because, without air transport, there is no tourism,” said João Soares, delegate of the Algarve Hotel Association of Portugal (AHAP).

The hotelier pointed out that “objectively, this is bad news for the Algarve as a tourist destination”. Although Ryanair’s CEO has already said that the low-cost routes connecting Faro to other airports in Europe will be maintained, “the base gives other benefits and guarantees.”

João Soares recalled that Ryanair’s decision to close some of its hubs was announced in July due to ‘delays in the delivery of Boeing 737 Max aircraft’, claiming that time had been wasted. The company warned that “as a result, it might have to fire employees and close down unprofitable air bases.”

The news of the Faro base’s closure comes to fruition alongside comments given by Michael O’Leary, Ryanair’s CEO, who stated that ‘obviously we will miss flights. A base allows Ryanair to operate late-night and early-morning flights, which will cease to exist because, since Faro-based planes are not available, they cannot come at the last minute or leave early in the morning”.

The AHAP member also stressed that “there is currently a better distribution in arrival times, because these early and late flights occupy less pressured hours at the Airport”, at the end of the day and early in the morning.

“It was very difficult fight to open the Faro base in 2010, but now it seems that the company is really deciding to withdraw”, he said regretfully.

Even though there are other British airlines operating to Faro, “in winter, Ryanair is responsible for the great growth of flights to the Algarve.” João Soares also added that “Brexit creates an economically competitive environment, so there is much competing for destinations with the highest support for routes from other countries.”

“We are afraid that this will happen to other low cost airlines too. In recent years, Air Berlin, Lauda Air, Monarch have all gone bankrupt one after the other and there was no one to replace them. There is a change in the low cost modus operandi, that is obvious”, he said.

Soares also explained that, “not having the planes based in Faro, will cause a lot of damage”, not only for the hotel industry, but for the entire economic chain of the region, since the companies involved in the handling and maintenance of aircraft, workers and those who depend on them.” He went on to express: “There is a lot of accommodation here for crews who had homes and have their lives here.”

In all this, the stressed AHP delegate  believes that one must not forget how this a “social issue, of people who will be unemployed, in a region that already has a high seasonality and where it is difficult for people to get jobs, from October to May.”

The hotelier also argued that “it is never too late to attempt to change the mind of the companies, with money and other incentives, whatever is necessary to support the companies and get them to stay at Faro Airport. The Government and Regional Transport Association must try to find alternatives. All flights are important to the Algarve’s economy.”

“We should not be overly alarmed, but the situation is worrying,” he concluded.