Some 140 airline routes between the UK and continental Europe have disappeared over the past 12 months, according to new results from aviation research group OAG.
Regional airports have been hardest hit as airlines contract after two decades of continuous expansion. Airports such as Coventry and Shoreham-by-Sea have lost all their international flights within the past year.
“We don’t want to get back to 10 or 15 years ago when, if you were able to fly from a regional airport, then it would be hugely expensive – that would be a real shame,” said Simon Evans, chairman of the Air Transport Users Council (AUC). “But if Ryanair is hurting, you can be sure that everyone else is.”
Routes between the UK and Spain have been hardest hit, with over 20 routes scrapped. These include Madrid from East Midlands, Birmingham and Leeds/Bradford, Malaga from Coventry and Teesside, and Valencia from Liverpool, Heathrow and Leeds/Bradford.
As many as 19 routes to Poland have been cut. Destinations in Turkey, Portugal, France, Ireland and Italy have also been hard hit. Although the OAG figures show that 68 routes have been added in the past year, most involve a lower frequency of flights.
“There has been a sea change – airlines are responding quicker to market conditions and every route now has to pay,” Evans told The Telegraph. “Five years ago the likes of Ryanair could swoop into obscure destinations on the back of pent-up demand, high levels of disposable income, and migrant workers going back and forth – but the weakness of the pound has changed that.”