Ryanair's Brussels Base Will Not Reopen in Summer 2023

The ULCC will operate 12 routes to the airport but its base will remain closed.

Credit: Rob Finlayson

Ryanair has confirmed that it will not reopen its base at Brussels Airport (BRU) in the northern summer 2023 season, citing an increase in charges and taxes.

The airline temporarily closed its two-aircraft base during winter 2022 although flights have continued using aircraft based outside of Belgium.

In a statement, the Irish ULCC said the base would remain shuttered this summer due to BRU’s decision to increase prices by 11% from April, making it “even more uncompetitive compared to other Belgian and EU airports.” However, Ryanair will retain 12 of the previously planned 16 destinations during the season.

Brussels Airport’s tariffs have been set for the next five years from April 1. The airport said the new charges take into account “the sharp rise in energy prices and very high inflation” and have “a strong differentiation based on noise and emissions to encourage more modern, quieter aircraft.”

It added that airlines have been consulted on the tariffs, which have been set under the supervision of an independent economic regulator.

Brussels Airport is playing a pioneering role in Europe in further encouraging the use of more modern, environmentally friendly aircraft, that produce less noise and emit less [nitrogen oxides],” a statement from the airport said. 

Ryanair’s summer 2023 schedule will see the airline cut flights from BRU to Alicante (ALC), Amman (AMM), Lisbon (LIS) and Milan Malpensa (MXP). However, three of the four destinations will continue to be served by other carriers, leaving just Amman without nonstop flights.

The 12 destinations that will continue to receive Ryanair routes from BRU in summer 2023 are: Barcelona (BCN), Berlin (BER), Dublin (DUB), Girona (GRO), Madrid (MAD), Malaga (AGP), Marrakech (RAK), Palma de Mallorca (PMI), Pisa (PSA), Porto (OPO), Rome Fiumicino (FCO) and Valencia (VLC).

As well as criticizing Brussels Airport’s fees, Ryanair Group CEO Michael O’Leary last September hit out at the Belgium government for what he described as an “absurd” new tax. The Belgian Embarkation Tax, which came into effect from April 2022, aims to encourage alternatives to short-haul flights.

For destinations less than 500-km (311-mi.) away from the airport of departure, the levy is €10 ($10.80). Passengers who fly to a destination more than 500-km away will have to pay an extra €2 ($2.20), and €4 ($4.30) for flights outside of Europe.

Ryanair said its 109 routes to and from Brussels Charleroi (CRL) remain unaffected by the decision to close its BRU base.