Ryanair is cutting its UK capacity by 16 percent next winter, equating to 2 million fewer passengers, as it shifts operations to its European bases to take advantage of cheaper air passenger duty.
The axe falls across all its British bases, apart from Edinburgh and Leeds Bradford.
Stansted is particularly hard hit with 135 fewer weekly flights, or 17 percent.
European bases in line for a boost include Malaga, where 44 routes were launched last week.
Chief Executive Michael O’Leary blamed the UK cuts on high airport charges and aviation taxes.
He said: “The UK’s tourist tax and BAA’s high airport charges are damaging UK tourism and the British economy generally.”
“Independent capacity analysis shows that growth has returned to the Belgian, Dutch and Spanish markets after their governments scrapped tourist taxes and/or reduced airport charges, in some cases to zero, in order to stimulate tourism and jobs.”
In November, APD is scheduled to rise from £11 to £12 on short-haul flights, from £45 to £60 on flights between 2,001 and 4,000 miles, from £50 to £75 on flights between 4,001 and 6,000 miles, and from £55 to £85 on flights over 6,000 miles, under plans put in place by the previous Labour government.
In last week’s emergency budget, the coalition government plans to explore changes to the aviation tax system, including switching from a “per passenger” to a “per plane” duty.
APD has already risen by up to 325 per cent since 2006, and leading figures from the aviation industry claim that further increases will hit families hardest and lead to a decline in both inbound and outbound travel, whilst do little to address the environmental crisis.