Budget airline Ryanair has announced substantial cutbacks in its number of flights from a leading holiday airport next winter.
The Irish no-frills carrier said it would making a 14% reduction in the number of weekly flights for winter 2008/09 at Stansted airport in Essex.
The number of weekly flights will be cut from more than 1,850 to just under 1,600 this winter 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.
The airline blamed the capacity cutback, which follows its announcement earlier this week of fewer flights this winter from Dublin, on a number of reasons.
These include the huge hike in oil prices, the ‘expense’ of using Stansted and the ‘total failure of the inadequate Civil Aviation Authority regulatory regime’ to control costs for airlines at Stansted.
Ryanair said it would lose less money this winter by sitting eight aircraft on the ground rather than flying them ‘at an expensive airport like Stansted’.
The Irish low-cost carrier said a request to Stansted operator BAA to operate the eight aircraft in return for a substantial discount on airport charges had been refused.
It said that no routes would be axed at Stansted this winter, but that frequency on nearly all routes would be less.
Chief executive Michael O’Leary predicted that some smaller low-fare carriers could ‘go bust this winter’ and said that, if Ryanair took over rival Irish carrier Aer Lingus it would run Aer Lingus as a separate brand with separate management.
Ryanair also said it was closing operations at seven of its European bases from November 4 to December 19 this year.
The bases are Basel, Budapest, Palma in Majorca, Krakow and Rzeszow in Poland, Salzburg and Valencia.
The airline blamed high airport charges and high oil prices for the decision.
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