Ryanair stops taking reservations from end of March for its Girona (Barcelona) routes

Passengers looking to book a flight out of Girona-Barcelona (GRO) with Ryanair for travel dates beyond 30th March are coming across this:

Ryanair booking page

Ryanair booking page

As Catalan daily Avui has pointed out, there are two possible reason why this is happening while bookings from the other Barcelona-area airports where Ryanair operates, Reus (REU) and Barcelona-El Prat (BCN), are working fine

Either it has something to do with ongoing negotiations to keep Ryanair at GRO or, the official version, the Irish company is still defining its summer flight schedule.

On one hand and as my article of a few days ago at AirObserver pointed out, Ryanair's recent arrival at BCN strengthens its negotiating power bis a bis the Catalan authorities. The current agreement between Ryanair and the local authorities expires at the end of the year 2011 and it seems that Ryanair has been asking for 12 million euros to renew it.

This happens at a time when these same authorities seem less keen on more money handouts and risk getting caught in a "subsidies war" with other local airlines (see AirObserver's post on this too). Blocking flight reservations could be a way to send a strong signal and an important power gesture...

On the other hand, Ryanair has just opened routes to destinations from GRO, such as Larnaca (Cyprus).

So possibly there was a combination of the two factors at play, negotiation strategy and route planning. In any case, while I finish to write this post I read that sources of the Catalan government have confirmed that an agreement has been reached to keep Ryanair operating at Girona airport (although has not yet been ratified due to last week's parliamentary election in Catalonia). I am waiting for more details...