Ryanair Resumes UK Domestic Services

Ryanair is making a return to the UK domestic market, almost a year after completely pulling out. The Irish low-cost giant will launch flights from Manchester to the City of Derry on December 1st, partially ending the dispute with the UK’s CAA. It’s unclear if the airline will relaunch all or any of its 12 previous routes.

Ryanair, COVID-19, Change Fee
Ryanair is back in the UK domestic market for the first time since December 2020. Photo: Getty Images

Guess who’s back

As spotted by Routesonline, Ryanair is back to flying UK domestic flights. The Dublin-based giant will start with a single route from Manchester (MAN) to the City of Derry (LDY) just ahead of the winter holidays on December 1st, operating thrice-weekly. While this one route would usually not merit much attention, it is a sign of an underlying change.

In December 2020, days before Brexit, Ryanair pulled all of its UK domestic routes following a row with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). The issue centered around the carrier’s use of foreign crews and wet-leased planes for UK ops, with only one plane carrying the UK’s G- registered aircraft.

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Ryanair has only registered a tiny number of planes in the UK, with most from Ireland, Malta, and others. Photo: Getty Images

Instead of adding UK-registered planes, Ryanair pulled out of the market altogether (minus Northern Ireland, which occurred this summer). The other issue centered around the Air Passenger Duty (APD), which Ryanair sees as too expensive and uncompetitive compared to mainland Europe. Now, there seems to be a change of heart, with the carrier back on the UK register.

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Not everything

While one route might be back, don’t expect to see the entire bounce back in the next few months. In a statement about the MAN-CDY route, Ryanair Director Of Commercial Jason McGuinness,

“APD makes UK airports very uncompetitive compared to those in Europe, where Ryanair continues to add capacity having opened several new bases in recent months, including Agadir, Zagreb, Billund, Stockholm, Riga and Turin. While Ryanair is committed to the UK and to Derry airport, the lack of government support continues to create barriers to boosting traffic and growth.”

Ryanair Lauda
Ryanair won’t be coming back until the UK makes significant concessions on APD. Photo: Getty Images

For now, Ryanair will only be returning to routes that will make the most financial sense. This means flights out of London, Edinburgh, Belfast, and Liverpool are some ways away. Despite lots of talk of APD scrapping or major reductions, there has been little action.


Ryanair’s exit has left an opening for other LCCs to expand, namely easyJet. The airline added a dozen routes over the summer to meet high demand but has since been reconsidering the future of its operations. However, given the busy nature and few competitors, both carriers are likely to remain in some capacity.

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BA and easyJet currently have a monopoly on domestic UK routes. Photo: Getty Images

For now, the industry will be watching closely on which routes Ryanair makes a return on in the next few months.

What do you think about Ryanair’s return to the domestic market? Let us know in the comments!