Ryanair will scrap its summer schedule to Rhodes and Kos a month before the end of the season after accusing the islands’ authorities of “reneging” on a promotion agreement.
The budget airline announced the cancellation of 82 flights a week from October 2 on 11 routes to Kos and 13 to Rhodes.
Ryanair flies to Rhodes from Stansted, East Midlands, Liverpool and Bournemouth in the UK and to Kos from Stansted, Leeds Bradford and Liverpool. The services were due to operate until November.
The carrier blamed the Dodecanese development association Detap and the mayor of Kos, saying they had “failed to honour an agreed joint marketing campaign with Ryanair to promote Ryanair’s Rhodes and Kos routes this summer”.
Tourism authorities and industry bodies across Greece are struggling to cope with a lack of funds amid the country’s budget crisis.
Ryanair said the early withdrawal would cost the islands more than €18 million (£14.5 million) in tourism revenue.
An airline spokesman said: “Ryanair intended to operate the routes to the end of the summer. However, Detap and the mayor of Kos reneged on an agreement to jointly promote our flights.
“Detap and the mayor should now explain to Rhodes and Kos residents why they have refused to partner with the only airline interested in bringing new passengers to the region.”
Ryanair previously dismissed rumours about a possible cancellation of routes as “speculation”.
Reports in Greece quoted the country’s tourism minister as saying: “The government has not signed any contract with any low-budget airline.”
Meanwhile, passengers due to fly with Ryanair this weekend should remember to check in online before 16:00 today or face a hefty check-in fee at the airport.
The Ryanair.com site will shut down late this afternoon until midnight on Saturday. Ryanair promises a faster site and additional features from Sunday.