Ryanair to set up Continental base

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The Independent Online
RYANAIR, THE no-frills airline, is to set up a base on the Continent in order to expand its fast-growing network.

The carrier, which yesterday announced an "adjusted" profit of pounds 30.2m, said it was in talks with a number of countries.

"Our next move is to establish a third base to complement Dublin and Stansted," said Howard Millar, Ryanair's director of finance. Ryanair has an ambitious expansion programme in place. Passenger numbers are up 30 per cent to 4 million and the airline has placed a pounds 2bn order for up to 45 Boeing 737s.

Executives are also considering a listing on the London market. The Ryan family, which has a 33 per cent stake, is likely to sell up to pounds 50m worth of shares, reducing its holding to 28 per cent, and the airline plans to create another pounds 50m of new shares to trade. The carrier, whose headquarters are in Dublin, is looking to steal a march over its rivals, including EasyJet and British Airways' Go.

"We are looking to launch another five or six routes from Stansted. We are the only low-cost carrier making a healthy profit," said Mr Millar.

Ryanair claims its main competitors are making big losses. Mr Millar said: "By next year we will have 5 million passengers. British Midland has about 6 million - we should catch them in a couple of years."

Meanwhile, Go, British Airways' low-cost carrier, announced a service to Lisbon yesterday - its fourth destination to be launched since the airline took off last month. The cheapest seats will be pounds 100 return.

Go also said it would cut its fare from Rome to pounds 100 - seven days after raising it to pounds 120.