Ryanair joins transatlantic carriers in cutting winter flights

Ryanair is to slash the number of planes it operates this winter because of rising fuel prices, the airline announced May 23.

The Irish carrier, Europe's largest low-cost airline, said that the rising cost of fuel made it more profitable to "tactically" ground up to 80 aircraft during winter, when fewer passengers are traveling.

As of this month, Ryanair's fleet consists of 272 aircraft, meaning a little under one third of its fleet will be out of action during the winter months.

The airline also said in its Annual Report that it expected average fares to rise by up to 12 percent this coming year, the same rise that was experienced over the past year - a result, it said, of new routes and bases, slower traffic growth and fuel surcharges from its competitors.

The soaring price of fuel has forced almost all airlines to take measures to compensate, ranging from grounding planes to fuel surcharges imposed by many other carriers.

Last week, Delta, Air France, KLM and Alitalia announced that they would begin cutting transatlantic operations in response to "a significant increase in jet fuel prices."

The four airlines, which operate as part of a joint venture, said that the numbr of flights between Europe and the US/Canada would fall by between seven and nine percent over the fall and winter seasons.

The good news, at least, is that the changes don't appear to be having much of an effect on travel plans - a survey conducted by TripAdvisor and released last week showed 86 percent of Americans were planning to get away this summer despite high oil prices, some three percent more than in 2010.

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