I just had an email from Ryanair advising me that a flight I had booked some time ago with them from East Midlands airport (EMA) to Inverness airport (INV) has been cancelled. In my case it's a flight several months in the future (15th October), but the cancellations seem to affect people travelling a lot sooner than that! And perhaps on other routes too, because although my email tells me about my own flight (roughly speaking) and no doubt fulfils their legal obligations to the letter, there is absolutely no mention of this in their website, so there may be many other changes/curtailments of service which won't be obvious to anyone not directly affected. Here's the text of the email I received, which illustrates the guarded way in which my email (and presumably those received by many other people who have booked flights) is worded:
Ryanair Flight Cancellation
Ryanair regrets that following an operational review your flight/s detailed below will cease operation from the 16/07/09 - 24/10/09.
Please advise any other passengers who may be travelling in your party of the cancellation of this booking.
Any flights booked departing between the 16/07/09 - 24/10/09 have been cancelled and a refund will be automatically processed back to the original form of payment used to pay for the original booking. If one of the flights in this reservation is due to depart before the 16/07/09 and you do not wish to use the flight you can receive a refund by clicking on the link below and completing the form.
(URL to my flight booking)
Ryanair sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused by this route cancellation.
Of course I am only transiting East Midlands airport (EMA), as I shall be arriving there on an easyJet flight from Spain some hours before my Inverness was originally scheduled to depart. This airport serves the English Midlands cities of Leicester, Loughborough, Nottingham and Derby, not places I have ever had any particular requiirement to visit.
It is, somewhat to my amazement, still technically feasible for me to get to Nairn that day by taking the airport bus into Derby, then a crosscountry train to Edinburgh, then a direct ScotRail train to Nairn/Inverness via Aberdeen (rather than the more usual Perth). It would of course have me arriving at Nairn at 11.45pm approximately rather than 5.20pm at Inverness airport and, although I haven't priced it yet, undoubtedly cost more than the now-cancelled Ryanair flight. I may therefore look at changing the itinerary for my return to the UK completely, as I have no over-riding need to be back here on that date.
Whether these flight cancellations by Ryanair have any direct correlation with the announcement of the first ever losses by the company just a few days ago is not known to me, but one might perhaps be forgiven for wondering if these are not 'slash and burn' tactics in operation to get the company back 'into the back' as expeditiously as possible, with the routes affected being those they consider marginal to their main route network.
It'll be interesting to see whether there are any flights to/from Inverness by Ryanair in the foreseesable future, specially during the current economic recession/depression whose end-date can only be guessed at. One must I suppose hope that it will be less long than the one which blighted the 1930s with such terrible consequences. Do you think I am being melodramatic? I sincerely hope I am.
UPDATE: (Tuesday 9JUN09 22.10 BST) Within less than an hour of uploading this article, there were 'Google' searches using as their search criteria some of the same precise wording used in the email I received from Ryanair, originating from Poland - indicating perhaps that these 'slash and burn' route network cuts do go rather further than their Inverness-East Midland route, as I had speculated. I wonder just how many destinations are affected.
2nd UPDATE: (Wednesday 10JUN09 02.18 BST) It seems that the Durham Tees Valley airport to Dublin service is also being withdrawn from July.
3rd UPDATE: (Thursday 11JUN09 10.32 BST) Now I see internet searches alighting here from the Czech Republic over the issue of Ryanair flight cancellations. Just how far does this thing extend?