Ryanair plans passenger increase at Stansted in exchange for fee cut

Irish carrier signs ten-year deal with airport to boost passenger numbers to 20 million

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The Independent Online

Budget airline Ryanair has announced its intention to boost passenger traffic from Stansted Airport by 50 percent to more than 20 million.

The Irish airline's CEO Michael O'Leary had earlier this year threatened to cut flights through Stansted by 9 percent because of a planned 6 percent increase in fees at the airport, bought by Manchester Airport Group (MAG) from Heathrow Ltd in February.

The deal with the airport's new owners will create an estimated 7,000 jobs at the site, the carrier claimed.

Ryanair has also announced it is launching new routes from Stansted to Bordeaux, Dortmund, Lisbon and Rabat from this winter.

Mr O'Leary said the airline expected to grow passenger numbers by a million a year over the first seven years of the deal.

The carrier expects traffic to increase from a 2012 level of 13.2 million to 14.5 million in the first year of the agreement.

He admitted that they would have to cut fares and reduce margins to meet the targets as well as relocating services from other airports.

Announcing the deal with MAG at a London press conference, Mr O'Leary said charges were still “very high”.

He added: “We'll be cutting some capacity at other airports for summer 2014 because there's now incentive for us at Stansted to grow aggressively.

“Stansted's already our biggest business but it's about to get an awful lot bigger.”

The agreement will see Ryanair operate 2,000 flights a week from the Essex airport, up from 1,800.

Offering his thoughts on the airport capacity squeeze facing the capital, Mr O'Leary declared the current official review “pretty much a waste of time” while scoffing at the idea of a “Boris Island ” airport in the Thames.

He said the best solution environmentally was for Stansted, Heathrow and Gatwick each to build an extra runway since they all had infrastructure in place, rather than embarking on building a new hub.

“This country has repeatedly proved itself incapable of delivering big infrastructure projects on time and in budget,” he said.