Price dispute sees Ryanair cut nearly all Manchester flights

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The Independent Travel

Ryanair is pulling nine of its 10 Manchester routes, cancelling 44 weekly flights from the airport in response to a spat over pricing.

From the beginning of October, the budget airline will fly only to Dublin from Manchester, while other routes including Barcelona, Milan and Cagliari will go from nearby facilities such as East Midlands or Liverpool. Manchester will lose some 600,000 passengers per year from the move, which equates to up to 600 local jobs.

Ryanair blames a refusal by Manchester Airports Group (MAG) to bring down prices, despite the lure of an extra 28 weekly flights, representing 400,000 new passengers. Stephen McNamara, from Ryanair, said: "Ryanair continues to offer lower fares to encourage travel, but with passengers paying lower fares, airports must lower their charges."

MAG says it has consistently cut prices over the last 15 years, and the extra reductions demanded by Ryanair were untenable. A spokesman for the company said: "Notwithstanding all of our investment in Manchester Airport, including during the current recession, we don't believe that charges as low as £3 per passenger are unreasonable. Clearly, Ryanair do, and that's regrettable."

The majority of destinations will still be accessible from Manchester through other airlines, MAG said.

Aggressive price wars are the Irish carrier's core strategy for weathering the recession that is devastating the airline industry across the world. As part of its cost-cutting drive, Ryanair is moving to online check-in only from the autumn, and Michael O'Leary, the outspoken chief executive, left, has even mooted charging passengers to use the lavatories.

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