Ryanair has revealed its winter schedule 2023/2024 for Charleroi airport (Brussels South), with an impressive number of 93 connections, including seven new destinations, including Nantes, Amman in Jordan, Cluj and Iasi In Romania, Milano in Italy, Tirana in Albania and Warsaw Poland.
However, this announcement comes against a difficult backdrop, including a pie-throwing incident targeting Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary and impending strikes pilots based in Belgium scheduled for September 14 and 15. Despite the expected disruption, Ryanair is determined to offer a range of travel options at Charleroi Brussels South Airport for the 23/24 winter season. The program not only includes new connections, but also an increased frequency of flights on 30 existing routes, aimed at travelers looking for winter getaways in the sun and exciting city escapes. A highlight of this expansion is the deployment of two Boeing 737 additional aircraft at Charleroi, bringing the total number of aircraft based at 17, with an investment value of about 200 million dollars. This expansion should also create more “60 high-paying job opportunities for pilots, cabin crew and engineers”.
Ryanair is already operating in Charleroi at 117% of its pre-Covid level. Note that it will also add new bases in Copenhagen and Tirana.
“Ryanair has consolidated its position as Belgium’s leading airline, operating an extensive network of 93 routes and transporting an impressive 10 million passengers per year between its two Brussels airports, Charleroi and Zaventem,” says the Irish low cost in a press release. “By offering a multitude of route choices at competitive prices, Ryanair has become a trusted travel partner for Belgian citizens and visitors. This recent growth, a remarkable 10% increase on the previous financial year, is supported by Ryanair’s significant investment of $1.7 billion in Charleroi, transforming it into a base for 17 aircraft and maintaining more than 550 well-paid crew and engineering positions.”
The launch of the winter 23/24 program coincided with the handover by Ryanair of the petition “Protecting overflights: keeping European skies open” to the European Commission, which collected more than 1.5 million signatures from frustrated passengers. This petition calls on the European Commission to guarantee overflights and the freedom of movement of EU citizens during strikes recurrent of air traffic control (ATC).
“In 2023, there were a staggering 63 strike days ATC, a twelvefold increase compared to the previous year. These strikes have forced EU airlines to cancel thousands of EU overflights, affecting travelers from Germany, Spain, Italy, the United Kingdom and Ireland. In contrast, France has implemented minimum service laws to protect its domestic and short-haul flights, compounding the inconvenience faced by EU passengers. Inaction by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has allowed more than 1.2 million European travelers to suffer last-minute flight cancellations, even when their flights do not involve France., said Ryanair CEO O’Leary. Ryanair announces that it has had to cancel 6,500 flights in 2023 for this reason.
On the other hand, no growth is expected at Brussels Airport where costs are excessive.