Ryanair accuses Portugal of “blocking three new routes to Morocco”

Ryanair has been involved in another ‘angry spat’ with authorities in Portugal, this time accusing them of blocking three new routes to Morocco.

The situation comes as elsewhere in the media reports have revisited the issue of ‘Moroccan migrants’, saying of the 97 that arrived by boat at various points during the pandemic, almost half have gone ‘missing without trace’ as the process of either expelling them from the country or legalising their situations moves at an all-too-familiar snail’s pace.

Added to this is the fact that three of the men have been involved in violent crimes since they got here. The incidents involve “mainly agressions and robberies, in the Lisbon area of Arroios”, explains Diário de Notícias – a locality where “a significant community of Moroccan migrants is concentrated”.

According to DN, the three were among dozens of Moroccans who arrived by boat in the Algarve during 2020.

SEF borders agency has refused to confirm this, although it has confirmed that two of the men are now in preventive custody.

Preventive custody is a situation that has already been experienced by a number of other Moroccan ‘boat people’ following riots staged over the way their asylum requests were being handled (click here).

But back to Ryanair’s complaints: the ministry of infrastructures and civil aviation authority ANAC have suggested they are fairly spurious.

Both entities claim the low-cost carrier actually failed to respond in time to various legal requirements.

“It would have been illegal to grant authorisation” for the new routes without them, explained ANAC in a statement, stressing the onus now is on Ryanair compensating the apparent 3,000 Portuguese people who are said to have booked to fly to Morocco this weekend from Lisbon.

Ryanair’s contretemps with Portuguese entities are nothing new. The company frequently reacts angrily to decisions made by Portugal (click here).

This time round, the airline’s commercial director Jason  McGuiness has simply loaded the blame onto “faceless bureaucrats” whom he accuses of “refusing to stay in their offices on Friday to resolve this matter, leaving for a holiday weekend while destroying the Bank Holiday plans for more than 3000 fellow citizens”.

He said in a statement: “Ryanair already has traffic rights to fly from Portugal to Morocco, successfully operating flights between Portugal and Morocco for over three years. There is no good reason for this unlawful action, which is a clear breach of EU law on the operation of the EU Open Skies agreement”