July 18, 2008

Ryanair Cuts Winter Flights As It Feels Chill

By Jane Bradley

BUDGET airline Ryanair yesterday announced substantial cutbacks in its number of winter flights from Stansted Airport.

The Irish no-frills carrier said it was to make a 14 per cent reduction in the number of weekly flights, blaming high oil prices and the "expense" of using Stansted.

The news came just days after the airline said it was also to slash the number of winter flights it is to run this year from its Dublin hub.

The number of weekly flights at Stansted will be cut from more than 1,850 to just under 1,600 and the airline reckons it will carry around 900,000 fewer passengers than last winter. Ryanair has 36 planes based at Stansted, but this will be reduced to 28.

Ryanair, headed by maverick chief executive Michael O'Leary, also blamed the "total failure of the inadequate Civil Aviation Authority regulatory regime" to control costs for airlines at Stansted for the cutbacks. O'Leary said: "Monopoly airports ... have delivered high prices and awful facilities.

"It is time we allowed competition to deliver where monopolies have failed."

He renewed calls for BAA's control of most of the UK's airports to be broken up by the Competition Commission.

O'Leary predicted that the cuts would mean about 900 job losses at Stansted, including around 150 Ryanair staff.

The firm added separately that it would close operations at seven European cities, including Budapest and Krakow, between 4 November and 19 December, saying it was too expensive to fly passengers at certain locations during the seasonally quiet period. Deputy chief executive Michael Cawley said those bases were being temporarily shut because "high airport charges, and the massive increases which we face in fuel prices, makes it more profitable for Ryanair to ground aircraft rather than fly them at these airports during this period".

Originally published by Jane Bradley Business Reporter.

(c) 2008 Scotsman, The. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.