Ryanair cuts at Stansted raise second home owner fears

21.7.2009   (Telegraph)

Thousands of second home owners face being cut off over the winter as Ryanair
announced drastic cutbacks in services from Stansted.

By David Millward, Transport Editor

The move, announced by Michael O’Leary, the airline’s chief executive, will [cut]
10 of the routes operated by the airline being cut completely and frequency cuts
on another 30.

Where the cuts will fall still has to be announced, but Mr O’Leary told the Daily
Telegraph, that two or three Irish services would be cut completely while the
rest would be on the continent.

But although no final decisions have been made, Mr O’Leary hinted that parts
of France could be vulnerable.

“You find that they don’t use these places in November, December, January and
February and they never have.

“People who go to a holiday home in the west of France for one weekend in November
are hardly going to fill a plane.

“I can’t reassure anybody.  If they want reassurance, they should write to Gordon

The cuts at Stansted, Ryanair’s largest base in Britain, will mean that the airline
is operating 168 fewer flights than it did during the same period last year.

It will also mean the airline carries 2.5 million fewer people than last winter
and will, for the first time see a reduction in the annual total of passengers
on its planes, which will fall from 30 million to 29 million.

The drop in the number of flights will at least provide some respite for people
living beneath Stansted’s flightpath and come at a time when residents are campaigning
against plans for a second runway.

The cutbacks are in part a bargaining ploy by Ryanair which is trying to squeeze airports into
cutting or dropping landing charges completely during the slack winter months

However they also come against a backdrop of the aviation suffering its worst
crisis since the September 11 terrorist outrages.

British Airways reported an £401 million loss last year and earlier this year
the International Air Transport Association said that major carriers were on course
to lose £5.6 billion this year.

Analysts saw the move as a reflection of the current economic climate, with airlines
having to brace themselves for a tough few months.

“In the winter there are a certain number of flights which are no longer economically
viable,” said Gert Zonneveld of Panmure Gordon.

“Ryanair did the same thing last winter, but they do seem to be cutting deeper
this year.

“This seems to be because of the economic recession, combined with rising airport
charges and the small but unwelcome increase in Air Passenger Duty.”

Another analyst said Mr O’Leary’s strategy made sense. “He has thrown the gauntlet
down to regional airports telling them to cut or scrap their charges, otherwise
he will yank capacity out.”

Stansted sought to play down the significance of the move.   “Last winter Ryanair
reduced its aircraft fleet here to 28, this year it will be 24.  It is common
practice for them to reduce frequency to various destinations during the winter
season as they have done in previous years,” a spokesman said.

“We have factored this potential outcome into our latest passenger forecasts.
 However, it should be noted that Ryanair recently announced it will launch a
new service to Olso from Stansted this October.

“Ryanair are one of the most profitable airlines in the world and the success
of their base here, where they have invested millions in new facilities, has helped
them become as successful as they are today.”



see also


SSE response to latest Ryanair cutbacks at Stansted

Date Added: 21st July 2009

Commenting on news today of major cutbacks by Ryanair in its winter schedules
for Stansted Airport, Stop Stansted Expansion’s Economics Adviser Brian Ross said:
“The idea that there is any need for a 2nd runway at Stansted is now simply pie
in the sky. It is also clear that expansion plans have become a distraction for
BAA management at Stansted at the expense of the underlying business.”"Ryanair
accounts for 2/3 passengers using Stansted. (SSE)

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