600 jobs going as Ryanair departs airport

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The Independent Travel

Low-fare airline Ryanair is to close or switch nine of its 10 routes at Manchester airport from October, it was announced today.

The Irish budget carrier blamed Manchester airport's refusal to lower its charges for the decision, which will mean the loss of up to 600 local jobs.

A total of 44 weekly Ryanair flights will be lost at Manchester from 1 October, with the loss of 60,000 passengers a year.

Ryanair said it had offered Manchester an additional 28 weekly flights and 400,000 new passengers which would have created 400 new jobs if the airport "reduced its high charges".

The airline added that airport bosses had rejected this offer.

This means Ryanair's Manchester routes to/from Barcelona (Girona), Bremen in Germany, Brussels (Charleroi), Cagliari in Sardinia, Dusseldorf (Weeze), Frankfurt (Hahn), Marseille, Milan (Bergamo) and Shannon will cease from 1 October.

Passengers affected will be emailed directly by Ryanair and provided with a full refund or the alternative of flying to some destinations from "competing, lower-cost airports" - East Midlands, the recently-announced new Ryanair base at Leeds Bradford and at Liverpool.

Ryanair's Stephen McNamara said: "Ryanair continues to lower fares to encourage travel, but with passengers paying lower fares airports must lower their charges - particularly high-cost airports like Manchester, Stansted and Dublin.

"Ryanair had offered new routes, traffic and growth to Manchester airport but since they prefer to preserve their high-cost base than to grow, Ryanair will now switch/close nine Manchester routes."

Ryanair has already announced cutbacks in winter 2009/10 flights at Stansted and Dublin.

Hours after Ryanair's announcement, Manchester Airport revealed three new routes are to be introduced through budget airline firm Jet2.com, which will create 250 new jobs.

Starting from next summer, Jet2.com will operate routes to Kos, Venice and Gran Canaria.

The firm said August had been its busiest month for bookings since it started operations six years ago.

Philip Meeson, of Jet2.com, said: "It is fantastic to be able to offer people flying from Manchester a number of brand new holiday destinations direct from the region.

"No other airline currently operates a scheduled service to Kos and Venice and we are confident that these will be extremely popular routes."

Andrew Cornish, managing director of Manchester Airport, said: "The fact that Jet2.com is continuing to expand its services from Manchester is extremely encouraging to the airport and the region as a whole."