Ryanair launches first East European route

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The Independent Online

Ryanair Yesterday brushed aside qualms about overcapacity in the no-frills airlines market to launch eight new routes, including its first to Eastern Europe. It will offer flights from London Stansted, Frankfurt Hahn and Finland's Tampere to Riga, Latvia, from October.

Ryanair Yesterday brushed aside qualms about overcapacity in the no-frills airlines market to launch eight new routes, including its first to Eastern Europe. It will offer flights from London Stansted, Frankfurt Hahn and Finland's Tampere to Riga, Latvia, from October.

The company will also boost its route network in Spain, adding flights to Santander and Zaragoza in northern Spain from Stansted. Passengers will also be able to fly from Hahn and Rome-Ciampino to Santander, and to Eindoven from Rome-Ciampino.

Michael O'Leary, the chief executive, said the new routes would help Ryanair meet its goal of carrying more than 27 million passengers this year. The route to Latvia marks its first expansion into one of the new European Union member states, the company said. It expects to carry more than 350,000 passengers to its three new destinations in the next 12 months.

A spokeswoman said flying to Riga was an opportunistic move. "Growth in Eastern Europe will be slower than in Western Europe. We got a low cost-base deal in Riga, there was no other reason for going there," she added.

Separately, bmibaby said it would start flying from Birmingham, its sixth UK base, in January. Destinations will include Spain, Amsterdam, Edinburgh, Belfast, Geneva and Prague.

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