Ryanair adds nine new London Stansted routes and plans for "prudent" UK growth as Brexit looms

Rebecca Smith
O'Brien said he was facilitating English people escaping the gloominess of the current climate
O'Brien said he was facilitating English people escaping the gloominess of the current climate (Source: Getty)

Ryanair has announced a boost to its routes from London Stansted, adding nine, including a daily service to Naples.

There will also be a three times daily service to Copenhagen and routes to Beziers, Cagliari, Clermont, Grenoble, Nice, Nimes and Strasbourg.

Chief commercial officer David O'Brien said the enhanced growth deal with Stansted owner Manchester Airports Group (MAG) in a "pretty bleak climate", will up passenger numbers to 20m per year and support around 15,000 jobs. He added that it would allow people to move "from the hot air to the hot weather as we escape the misery of all this Brexit talk and doom and gloom".

Ryanair also added extra flights on 13 existing routes.

Read more: Ryanair boss: It's clear voters were lied to by Brexit campaigners

The airline has been focusing on pivoting growth away from the UK in the wake of the Brexit vote in June, though O'Brien said his airline was "the most prepared for Brexit, should it ever happen of course", compared to competitors.

O'Brien said the airline will "do the prudent thing" and "continue a modest growth path in the UK", while being prudent about capacity allocation in the UK, and also look at where it expands elsewhere.

Divisional chief executive at London Stansted, Andrew Cowan said it was "fantastic news" for Stansted Airport, that will ensure it "remains one of the UK's fastest growing airports".

It comes as O'Brien said that the UK's share of Ryanair's growth is "significantly lower" than in recent years.

While Ryanair had 15 per cent growth in the UK for 2016, this is expected to slow to around seven per cent in 2017. He said very remote parts of Europe were now competing for that capacity.

Read more: Are Ryanair’s package holiday deals set for take off?

"Bulgaria and Romania between them have larger growth between them than the UK," O'Brien pointed out. He said this wasn't necessarily because of Brexit and these were "underserved markets".

Last year, Ryanair said it will be basing all 50 of its new planes outside of the UK, after Britain's vote to leave the European Union. Chief executive Michael O'Leary has been a vocal opponent to leaving the EU and has criticised the government for its approach since the vote, saying: "It's like Dad's Army going off to war here."

"These guys have no idea where they're going for the next two years and the problem is, that in the absence of any discussions with the Europeans on Brexit, they're all talking to themselves."

Nine new routes:

  1. Naples (daily)
  2. Copenhagen (Three daily)
  3. Beziers (Three weekly)
  4. Cagliari (Three weekly)
  5. Clermont (Two weekly)
  6. Grenoble (Three weekly)
  7. Nice (Daily)
  8. Nimes (Four weekly)
  9. Strasbourg (Two weekly)

More flights to:

Bergerac (Two daily), Biarritz (11 weekly), Bordeaux (daily), Carcasonne (12 weekly), Dinard (daily), La Rochelle, (daily), Lamezia (five weekly), Limoges (10 weekly), Lourdes (five weekly), Marseille (12 weekly), Perpignan (nine weekly), Porto (16 weekly), Toulouse (two daily).

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