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Why Ryanair suspended Israel flight schedule

Ever since it resumed flights to Ben-Gurion Airport, it has had to use Terminal 3—which charges higher fees.

A Ryanair plane at Ben-Gurion Airport, March 2, 2021. Photo by Yossi Aloni/Flash90.
A Ryanair plane at Ben-Gurion Airport, March 2, 2021. Photo by Yossi Aloni/Flash90.

Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair on Monday canceled its flights to and from Israel for March and April. The decision appears to be related to the fees it would have had to pay to use Ben-Gurion Airport, despite the speculation that it could be in part related to Israel’s conduct in the Hamas war.

The Israel Airports Authority decided to halt activity at Terminal 1 after the war broke out on Oct. 7. As a result, all flights departing from Ben-Gurion Airport use Terminal 3.

Airlines that depart from Terminal 3 must pay higher fees compared to Terminal 1, where airport taxes are lower. The low-cost carriers that mainly flew from Terminal 1 before the war began were able to save on fees, allowing them to offer lower fares to passengers.

As long as the low-cost carriers had not returned to Israel, there was no problem keeping Terminal 1 closed—almost all airlines that resumed flights to Israel had used Terminal 3 before the war, meaning their fees had not changed.

But on Feb. 1, Ryanair became the first low-cost carrier to resume direct flights to the country and had no choice but to start using Terminal 3.

It recently asked the authority whether it would be willing to charge less, as if it were using Terminal 1, so that it could reduce airfare for passengers. However, according to sources dealing with the matter, this request was not granted.

In recent days, Ryanair tried to resolve the issue with the IAA but ultimately concluded that flights to Israel were not profitable so long as the higher fees were in effect.

Ryanair had planned to significantly expand both the number of flights and destinations in the coming weeks, and according to sources close to the company, it had big plans for the Israeli market, but the demand to use Terminal 3 and pay high airport taxes caused Europe’s largest low-cost airline to leave and it is unclear when it will return.

Ryanair’s exit from the market could lead Wizz Air and easyJet to take similar measures, harming the Israeli consumer who will continue to pay more amid high demand and low supply. 

The Israel Airports Authority issued the following response after being approached: “Since the outbreak of the fighting, and against the background of the sharp decline in traffic volume at Ben-Gurion Airport and the growing security needs, Terminal 1 was closed. All international and domestic flights moved to Terminal 3.

“At the current passenger volume, there is no economic justification for operating two terminals. Terminal 1 will return to activity if passenger volumes warrant so. Flights departing from Terminal 3 are subject to airport fees according to the set price. All airlines, including Ryanair, were aware of this before resuming activity.”

Originally published by Israel Hayom.

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