Commercial flights say goodbye to Reus until 2023, with thirty routes already scheduled
Reus Airport has put an end to the 2022 season and there will be no more commercial flights until March. Ryanair is the company that has extended its operations the most in the capital of Baix Camp. Yesterday, he had to make the last two scheduled moves: a flight to and from Dublin. However, at the last minute, the plane had to be diverted to Barcelona due to the activation of the Plaseqta plan, as a result of the fire in a sulfur company in Constantí. After a change in the direction of the wind, the Reus Airport was affected, with all the staff and passengers who had to board confined inside. However, the flight to Dublin was operated, since the confinement ended around 8:30 p.m. and the forecast was that they could board.
In this uneven way, a season that has meant recovery after the pandemic came to an end. However, now faces the third consecutive winter 'blank'. There will be no commercial flights, but as the UGT delegate at Reus Airport, Carlos José Tomás, recalls, "the activity does not stop." It is now when practice flights become relevant.
It will not be until March 2023 that the airlines will recover their pulse. At the moment, four airlines have already put tickets on sale for the next season, with a total of 30 connections. Ryanair would be the one that would start operating earlier, with scheduled flights starting in March. In total, the Irish company already has ten routes available. One more ten corresponds to Jet2. In this case, most links will be launched in April, with some exceptions in May. As for TUI, the airline has put tickets on sale for a total of nine connections with Reus Airport, and TUIfly would maintain the connection with Brussels.
For now, the routes already available give continuity to those already operational in recent years, with special attention to English and Irish destinations. There are some exceptions, like Brussels or Eindhoven, in the Netherlands. However, these data are still temporary, and can also be expected if domestic flights return. This season, for example, Air Nostrum has maintained the link with Mallorca, moving almost 2,000 passengers.
For all this activity to return, there are still five months to go. In the meantime, the terminal will be closed, something that generates criticism among Aena employees and airlines, who believe that there is a lack of political will, as well as from agents in the territory, such as the Reus Chamber of Commerce.
As for the employees, they demand a deseasonalization to avoid temporary and permanent discontinuous contracts. Carlos José Tomás, from Reus Airport UGT, reminds that planes will continue to take off and land, or that they are not commercial. More than 70 Aena employees maintain their work during the winter period, but 16 workers are affected because their contract is fixed discontinuous. They ceased their activity on November 1 and will not be incorporated again until April.
The cessation of commercial flights affects Aena's discontinuous landlines, which are 16. We want them to be there all year
The winter break affects airline workers more directly. In the case of Ryanair, for example, during the period that the airline does not operate in Reus, three of the four permanent employees are affected by a Temporary Employment Regulation File (ERTE). This is how the workers have negotiated in recent days and, just last week, the contacts ended.
In high season, the company has a total of 28 workers in Reus, of which only four are permanent throughout the year. This will be the first time, in years, that the ERTE has been put on the table given that in the last two winter seasons without flights, the Covid prevailed. Francisco Cebrián, legal representative of the CCOO at Ryanair Reus, says that they initially requested, as a palliative measure, that some of the affected employees be transferred to Barcelona, "but it was not possible due to an agreement," he says. As Cebrián recalls, it is not the first time it has happened. And the fact is that “Reus Airport has always been very intermittent”. The only more stable period was that of 2007-2010, "when there was the base", recalls the legal representative of CCOO. At that time, there were a total of more than sixty Ryanair employees in Reus, of which 20 were permanent discontinuous employees.
Of the total of 28 Ryanair employees in Reus, four are permanent and, of these, three enter ERTE
What the employees do not know is if the trend for the coming years is going to be this. “We should propose that this be the last season in which the airport is closed”, exclaims the president of the Reus Chamber of Commerce, Jordi Just. The commitment made by the chamber entity is deseasonalization, and for this Just highlights "very important challenges" on the horizon: "This is the case of the new Central Intermodal Station, with the paradigm shift that it will represent for the communication of the territory, or the Master Plan for the Airport, which foresees an investment of 100 million euros to provide it with the necessary tools that will allow it to reach two million passengers».
We should aim to make this the last season the airport is closed
In fact, the employees say they do not understand why the equipment is left without commercial flights "when they are full" or why routes that had worked very well years ago, such as domestic flights or connections with Morocco, are not promoted. In fact, they remind you that other airports of the same size or even smaller are active all year round. “There is a lack of will and financing,” they point out.
For his part, Jordi Just appeals, at the same time, "to the responsibility of each one of us to turn Reus Airport into our airport". He asks, thus, that the people of the territory be "the main prescriber", asking the question: "If we do not make use of this airport, how can we convince those from outside of its potential?".
More than 800,000 passengers
Meanwhile, what is a reality is that this season the Reus Airport has recovered its pulse. In the absence of knowing the data for October, until last September there were already 811,412 passengers, still 14% less than in 2019, but far exceeding last year's figure, with only 120,830.