Ryanair to ground 10% of fleet

Budget airline Ryanair today said it would ground up to 10% of its fleet this winter to combat soaring airport charges.

The carrier – which unveiled a 17% rise in pre-tax profits to €528m in the year to March 31 – said it would be more profitable to keep 20 aircraft on the ground at Stansted and Dublin than put them in the air.

Chief executive Michael O’Leary blamed the “unjustified” doubling in landing and handling charges levied by Stansted operator BAA and higher charges at Dublin Airport.

He added that the effect of oil price rises – which have nearly doubled to the $130 US a barrel mark over the past year – had been mitigated through bulk buying at cheaper prices.

However, Mr O’Leary warned that this year’s prospects depended entirely on oil costs - and that Ryanair would break even if prices remained at the $130 US mark for the rest of the year.

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