LOW cost airline Ryanair has been accused of holding Granada to ransom after it was revealed the company is asking for more money to continue flying into the city.
Flights between Granada and London Stanstead were apparently cancelled after the company announced it was grounding 20 planes this winter in a bid to fight soaring petrol costs.
But a regional government representative claims the budget airline – which recorded profits of 390 million euros in 2007 – said it would reconsider the route if it received more money from the city.
“In mid-May, I received a phone call from Ryanair representatives stating the service to London was cancelled,” said Junta representative in Granada Antonio Martinez Caler. “Then on June 2, the company contacted me again asking for more money to save the flights.”
According to reports, the Junta currently pays Ryanair 300,000 euros a year to fly into the area, with Granada’s chamber of commerce stumping up 700,000 euros.
Martínez Caler has refused to divulge how much more money the airline is demanding, but criticised the City Hall for cancelling its share of the airport subsidies in 2007.
“I cannot say how much more money it will take for Ryanair to reconsider, but flights between Granada and London are worth saving.
“Others also need to put their hands into their pockets,” he added.
Granada council is refusing to reconsider its decision to cancel its funding, which in part forced Monarch to pull its Granada-Gatwick service last year.
“The council is not going to be held to ransom by the whims of low-cost airlines,” said tourism boss María Francisca Carazo.
The decision now leaves the Granada and Jaen areas with no flight links to the south of England.
Olive farmer Tim Kay insists it is very bad news for the area.
“This could destroy a lot of businesses, which rely on tourists from the UK,” he said. “Friends who run B&Bs felt the pinch after Monarch cancelled its flights.
“It will also force people to rethink when looking to buy a property here.”
Currently, the Ryanair website is not offering flights to either Stanstead or East Midlands from Granada after October 25. The service to Liverpool is unaffected.
A Ryanair spokesman admitted it was grounding flights this winter but refused to confirm whether Granada would be affected by these cancellations.
She refused to comment on the allegations of financial demands.