Shrugging off suggestions it has expanded too quickly, Ryanair has announced substantial reductions to its winter schedule at Stansted, just two days after unveiling cutbacks at its Dublin hub.
Instead, Michael O’Leary has launched an attack on operator BAA, saying its high landing fees were the main reason for grounding the aircraft, with record oil prices of more than US$140 a barrel also playing a part.The low-cost carrier is cutting its Stansted fleet by a quarter from 36 to 28 aircraft, along with a 14% reduction in the number of weekly flights from over 1,850 per week last year to just under 1,600 this year. Ryanair estimates that its traffic at Stansted will decline this winter by some 900,000 passengers compared to last year.
The airline states its decision to cut capacity is for the following:
1. London Stansted is the most expensive of Ryanair’s 28 bases.
2. The BAA Airport monopoly has again increased airport charges by 15% this year, on top of a 100% increase last year.
3. The total failure of the inadequate CAA regulatory regime to control these unjustified cost increases or to persuade BAA Stansted to meet the needs of its low fare airline users.
4. The fact that oil prices have risen to $140 a barrel.
Ryanair confirmed that it had written to BAA Stansted in recent weeks offering to operate these aircraft/flights this Winter in return for a substantial discount on airport charges applicable to these flights for the Winter season only. Like most monopolies, the BAA dismissed Ryanair’s reasonable requests out of hand. The BAA would rather impose high airport charges and have fewer passengers, rather than working with airline customers to lower costs and keep people flying during a Winter of crisis in the airline industry.
Announcing these cutbacks in London this morning, Ryanair’s CEO, Michael O’Leary said: “These winter schedule cutbacks, which are significantly greater than those of last winter, show just how damaging the BAA Airport monopoly has become to consumers and the best interests of London and UK tourism and the economy generally.”
“Like most monopolies, the BAA continues to increase costs at three times the rate of inflation, while delivering miserable service and inadequate facilities. Passengers continue to suffer long queues at security and passport control and frequent baggage belt failures at Stansted because the BAA refuses to staff or operate these facilities adequately.”
“These cutbacks reaffirm the abject failure of Harry Bush and his inadequate regulatory team in the CAA who have repeatedly failed to restrain the BAA’s high charges, price increases or to encourage them to meet the reasonable requirements of Stansted users by developing the efficient facilities we need and are willing to pay for.”
“When a regulated monopoly makes it more profitable for airlines to sit aircraft on the ground rather than fly them through the winter, then obviously the CAA’s laughable regulatory regime has failed. The BAA Stansted’s rejection of Ryanair discount plan for this Winter proves yet again why the BAA monopoly should be broken up and replaced with three competing London airports whose primary focus will be on stimulating traffic and developing low cost efficient facilities, which their customer airlines want and are willing to pay for.”
“We hope that the Competition Commission report will in due course support Ryanair’s call for the break up of the high cost BAA monopoly, and replace the inadequate and failed CAA regulatory regime with competing airports and better still competing terminals at the main London airports. Monopoly airports and the CAA’s regulatory regime have delivered high prices and awful facilities. It is time we allowed competition to deliver where monopolies have failed”.