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July 21, 2009    

Ryanair reduces Stansted flights and urges Government to scrap tourist taxes

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by Kay Murchie

A dispute with airport owner, BAA, has led Ryanair to reduce its services at Stansted Airport.

The budget airline said it will cut the number of aircraft it runs at the Essex airport by 40% in its winter schedule, and will slash the number of flights by 30%, blaming higher charges.

The reduction means the airline will be reducing the number of passengers it carries by 2.5 million between October and March.

The airline said Stansted, along with Dublin, were the most expensive bases and said the hike in air passenger duty tax was also to blame for its decision. From November, the tax will increase from £10 to £11.

However, Ryanair confirmed it had to written to Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, asking him to abolish the tax, in view of the fact that the Belgian, Dutch, Greek and Spanish Governments have all scrapped tourist taxes and/or reduced airport charges in a bid to boost tourism.

Commenting on today’s cutbacks, Stansted managing director, Stewart Wingate, said: “Today’s announcement means it is business as usual here at Stansted. Last winter Ryanair reduced its aircraft fleet here to 28. This year it will be 24. It is common practice for it to reduce frequency to various destinations during the winter season as it has done in previous years.”

Ryanair chief executive, Michael O’Leary, added: “Ryanair’s 40% capacity cutback at Stansted shows just how much Gordon Brown’s £10 tourist tax and the BAA monopoly’s high airport charges are damaging London and UK tourism and the British economy generally.”

In related news, earlier this month Ryanair said it would slash costs and boost profits by asking passengers to stand during flights.

Mr O’Leary has been in talks with European safety regulators about the matter and should the ‘vertical seating’ proposal gain approval, Ryanair plans to order new jets or refurbish its existing fleet.

Mr O’Leary is constantly looking at ways to cut costs and sparked outrage when he suggested introduced a “fat tax” for overweight passengers.

The chief executive of Europe’s largest no-frills airline, known for his controversial comments, also announced earlier this year that he is considering charging passengers to use the toilet on board.

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Tags: , cutbacks, flights, , Ryanair, services, Stansted, tourist tax, vertical seating