Europe’s largest airline Ryanair said yesterday it will cut flights at Stansted by 14 per cent, or 250 flights, this winter because of soaring fuel costs and high airport charges.
The Irish carrier’s chief executive Michael O’Leary said the move will see it carry 900,000 fewer passengers and trim its Stansted fleet to 28 planes from 36, between October and March next year.
Stansted is Ryanair’s largest hub handling 15m passengers a year. Crude oil has risen more than 50 per cent since the start of this year, reaching an all time high of $147 last Friday.
The airline said Stansted was the most expensive of its 28 bases and added airport charges had increased 15 per cent this year, on top of a 100 per cent rise last year.
O’Leary said he tried and failed to negotiate price reductions with BAA at Stansted this winter. He said: “I asked them to cut the charges by 100 percent, as they would still be getting the passengers using the airport.” O’Leary also blamed the aviation regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), which sets prices, for the cutbacks.
Ryanair added it was temporarily suspending flights at seven of its more “expensive” European bases including Basel in Switzerland and Krakow in Poland.