Ryanair says it will cut capacity at Stansted by 40 per cent this winter, blaming airport fees and the UK government’s Airline Passenger Duty.
The carrier will reduce the number of aircraft operating at Stansted from 40 this summer to 24 from the start of the winter schedule in October. Ryanair says this will result in a 30 per cent reduction in weekly flights (although it has not specified which routes will be cut), and a loss of 2.5 million passengers between October 2009 and March 2010.
The airline says it is introducing the cuts due to the cost of operating a base at Stansted (the airport being Ryanair’s most expensive base after Dublin), and the government’s increase in APD to £11 from November “despite the continuing traffic and tourism collapse”.
Commenting on the move Ryanair’s CEO Michael O’Leary said:
“In recent months the Belgian, Dutch, Greek and Spanish governments have all scrapped tourist taxes and/or reduced airport charges to zero in order to stimulate tourism. These cutbacks underline the urgent need to; (a) break-up the high cost BAA Airport Monopoly (as recommended by the Competition Commission) and (b)scrap Gordon Brown’s insane and damaging £10 tourist tax which has caused UK traffic to collapse”.
In response to Ryanair’s announcement, BAA has released its own statement, pointing out that the carrier routinely reduces its capacity at the airport during winter months:
“Last winter Ryanair reduced its aircraft fleet here to 28, this year it will be 24. It is common practice for them to reduce frequency to various destinations during the winter season as they have done in previous years. We have factored this potential outcome into our latest passenger forecasts. However, it should be noted that Ryanair recently announced it will launch a new service to Oslo from Stansted this October.
“Ryanair is one of the most profitable airlines in the world and the success of its base here, where it has invested millions in new facilities, has helped it become as successful as it is today.
“Stansted has been good for Ryanair and in turn, Ryanair has been good for Stansted flying nearly five million passengers to destinations across Europe in 2008. We look forward to continuing this successful relationship for many years to come.”
For more information visit ryanair.com.
Report by Mark Caswell