Ryanair flights hit by Brexit despite falling prices

Following the EU referendum there will be around five million fewer seats to and from the UK than originally planned

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Wednesday 31 August 2016 14:23 BST
The budget airline campaigned prominently for a “Remain” vote in the EU referendum
The budget airline campaigned prominently for a “Remain” vote in the EU referendum (Getty)

Ryanair has cut its annual growth rate for UK flights from 15 per cent this year to 6 per cent next year because of the decision to leave the European Union. As a result, there will be around five million fewer seats to and from Britain than originally planned.

The budget airline, which is Europe’s largest, had campaigned prominently for a “Remain” vote in the EU referendum.

Michael O’Leary, the airline’s chief executive, said: “We were planning to base up to 10 new aircraft in the UK, now there will be none based here – though some will fly in to the UK.” The planes will instead be based in Germany, Poland, Italy and eastern European nations.

“Fares will fall by 10-12 per cent for the rest of the year,” said Mr O’Leary. “In the short term that’s good for customers. Much of it is being funded by lower oil prices. We will pass [lower costs] on to passengers in lower fares.”

But he predicted that the longer-term effects will be harmful: “There’s an awful lot of rubbish being talked over here about ‘oh, there’s no effect’. As fares get cheaper more aircraft will be moved away from the UK over the next few years.”

The airline has also called on the new Government to be “radical” with its decision on airport expansion in South East England, demanding one new runway at each of Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted.

Mr O’Leary said such a decision “will finally resolve the runway capacity issue for the next 50 years, while ensuring competition between airports delivers efficient facilities and prevents airlines and passengers being ripped off by gold-plated monopoly runways”.

He said: “It’s not in my interest to advocate a new runway at all three airports, but it’s what London needs. The obvious long-term solution is remove the politicians, to upset all the ‘nimbies’ at the same time.”

Ryanair backs staying in EU

Despite the Leave vote, Ryanair is creating 450 jobs at Stansted with an EU training centre.

Jet2, the leading budget airline in northern England, is recruiting almost 1,000 flying staff and engineers. Starting in September, it is acquiring 30 new Boeing 737-800 over the next two-years.

The airline’s chief executive, Steve Heapy, said: “We have exciting plans to expand the number of destinations we fly to, as well as the number of UK bases we fly from, and this means that our team is growing all the time too.”

The airline is staging roadshows at Belfast, East Midlands, Manchester and Leeds to recruit new staff.

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