Ryanair to end nine Manchester routes

Low-fare airline Ryanair effectively pulled out of Manchester airport today in a row over airport charges that will result in up to 600 jobs being lost.

Low-fare airline Ryanair effectively pulled out of Manchester airport today in a row over airport charges that will result in up to 600 jobs being lost.

Unable to get the airport to lower its charges, the no-frills Irish carrier said that from October 1 it was either closing down or switching nine of its 10 Manchester routes.

The move will also result in the loss of 44 weekly Manchester flights and the loss of 600,000 passengers a year.

Ryanair said it had offered Manchester an additional 28 weekly flights and 400,000 new passengers which would have created 400 new jobs if the airport “reduced its high charges”.

But airport bosses said they did not think the charges they imposed were unreasonable and turned down Ryanair’s offer.

This means Ryanair’s Manchester routes to/from Barcelona (Girona), Bremen in Germany, Brussels (Charleroi), Cagliari in Sardinia, Dusseldorf (Weeze), Frankfurt (Hahn), Marseille, Milan (Bergamo) and Shannon will cease from October 1.

Passengers affected will be emailed directly by Ryanair and provided with a full refund or the alternative of flying to some destinations from “competing, lower-cost airports” – East Midlands, or the recently-announced new Ryanair base at Leeds Bradford and Liverpool.

Ryanair’s Stephen McNamara said: “Ryanair continues to lower fares to encourage travel, but with passengers paying lower fares airports must lower their charges – particularly high-cost airports like Manchester, Stansted and Dublin.

“Ryanair had offered new routes, traffic and growth to Manchester airport but since they prefer to preserve their high-cost base than to grow, Ryanair will now switch/close nine Manchester routes.”

A Manchester airport spokesman said: “Notwithstanding all of our investment in Manchester airport, including during the current recession, we don’t believe that charges as low as £3 (€3.47) per passenger are unreasonable. Clearly, Ryanair do and that’s regrettable.

“We’ve consistently cut our charges for the last 15 years, even when faced with increased costs such as security.

“Passengers will still be able to travel directly to the majority of the destinations affected by choosing other airlines.”

Earlier, Travel Trade Gazette quoted Manchester airport’s managing director Andrew Cornish as saying: “Ryanair made us an offer we could refuse.”

Ryanair has already announced cutbacks in winter 2009/10 flights at Stansted and Dublin.

Speaking on the Manchester announcement today, Gary Pearce of the GMB union said: “Ryanair has threatened cuts at Stansted, partly for the same reason. It is not clear if this is a negotiating tactic or if they will go through with this threat.”

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