On December 21, 2020, Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair cancelled 12 international and domestic United Kingdom routes. The airline accused the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) of imposing rules that made the operations of these flights “impossible”. 

Ryanair wrote in the statement that it had agreed to Brexit contingency arrangements with the CAA in 2018, but the authority introduced new policy changes on December 20, 2020 ‒ ten days before the UK's Brexit transition period ends. 

“We are disappointed to have to cancel 12 UK domestic and international (Morocco and Ukraine) routes from London, Manchester, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Belfast and Derry, because of the CAA’s unexpected policy-shift late last night,” Ryanair spokesperson said. 

However, Ryanair did not explain what policy changes made the operations of 12 UK routes “impossible”. 

In response, the CAA said the rules were not new. “It is incorrect for the airline to state that the UK Civil Aviation Authority has changed its wet-leasing policy at short notice,” Paul Smith at the Civil Aviation Authority commented. The CAA added that “it has been a long standing” position that a UK airline should not heavily rely on using wet-leased, foreign-registered aircraft to undertake their operations. 

“Doing so undermines the competitiveness of the UK aviation industry and the effectiveness of the regulatory regime,” Smith added, saying that this position had nothing to do with Brexit transition preparations. 

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The experts predicted that Ryanair’s debt would triple to €1.2 billion by March 2021. However, the airline should recover in 2022.