Ryanair, the largest airline in Italy, dropped out in the last minute from all routes to and from Comiso, in the Southeastern Sicilian province of Ragusa, in a fight with the airport operator. The airport will see its final Ryanair flights on May 3rd, the last day before compensation eligibility to affected passengers under European rules.
Comiso Airport is managed by SAC — the same company that manages Catania Airport, the largest in Sicily; the news came a day before Ryanair and SAC were expected to do a presentation celebrating the 10 years of the Ryanair base in Catania. The presentation was called off as the Comiso flights were withdrawn yesterday.
“We had scheduled press conferences […] to announce the growth in each of the four airports [Ryanair serves in Sicily, ed.], but unfortunately SAC […] tried to change the terms of our agreement in the eve of our conference”, stated Ryanair in a press release reproduced by LiveSicilia.it.
The Irish airline said “it is devastating news to Comiso and to Ragusans. Ryanair will be happy to restart all national and international flights from/to Comiso with immediate effect, as soon as SAC honors the agreement worked out and previously accepted in writing”.
From Comiso, Ryanair mostly served national destinations aimed at VFR (Visiting Friends and Relatives) customers, but it also planned to operate, this Summer, flights to Brussels/Charleroi.
In a press release republished by Sicilia in Volo, an association of enthusiasts promoting aviation in Sicily, SAC defended itself from Ryanair’s version, declaring it is “very surprised and sorry for the communication published today by Ryanair in the press conference at Trapani, and we are obliged to outline that, unfortunately, what was declared is not true”.
In the long statement, SAC recognized a “provisional agreement” with Ryanair for developing the traffic in Catania and Comiso was signed on January 20. It outlines that its conduct with Ryanair was “always fair and correct”.
“Only in the calls of the last few days, therefore close to the press conference that Ryanair itself had convened, have the Carrier’s positions changed in an unacceptable direction because it is contrary to SAC’s commercial policy”, it stated, adding that further contacts trying to sign the provisional agreement received “only negative responses with tones that do not suit two long-standing partners such as SAC and Ryanair”.
The airport operator, nevertheless, said it is “certain that these misunderstandings will soon be overcome and that we will soon be able to resume our collaboration with the Irish carrier for the development of the Comiso and Catania airports”.
Comiso will now be served only by a weekly Summer frequency, from June 17, to Forlì, Emilia-Romagna. The flight is sold by Go To Fly, a venture led by the operator of Forlì Airport, and will be operated by Aeroitalia.