EasyJet taunts Ryanair over 'dodgy village airports' as spat heats up
EASYJET has triggered a new row with its bitter no-frills rival, accusing Ryanair of flying from Edinburgh airport to "dodgy" destinations that no one has heard of.
Paul Simmons, EasyJet's UK general manager, also told The Scotsman that some of the rival airline's destinations from the airport were "villages", which it flew to only because of the favourable deals it had struck with them.
The latest spat comes weeks after Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary was forced to apologise to EasyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou after he was depicted in an advert as Pinocchio, in a reference to the company's punctuality record.
Ryanair went on to produce an advert showing a photograph of Robert Mugabe beneath the claim "Here's EasyJet's new head of punctuality" after EasyJet was found to have a worse punctuality record at its main Gatwick base than Air Zimbabwe.
Mr Simmons, who was in Edinburgh to announce that Easy-Jet would compete with other airlines on the Cologne and Paphos routes, said of Ryanair's routes from the capital: "They run to some fairly dodgy places, like Bratislava, Tampere and Kaunas. They get attractive deals to fly to these villages.
"But we serve the right routes, which are sustainable in the long term and which people have heard of."
Mr Simmons backed this up by stating that EasyJet, which is the biggest airline at Edinburgh, carried some two million of the airport's 8.7m annual passengers on its 20 routes, while Ryanair flew just 1.7m passengers despite having twice as many routes.
However, Ryanair said EasyJet should concentrate on its own problems instead. It said this included Sir Stelios's threat to withdraw the airline's use of the Easy brand as part of his long-running feud with EasyJet's management over the company's future direction.
Ryanair spokesman Stephen McNamara said: "Ryanair has become Europe's largest airline by developing an exciting network of low fare destinations throughout Europe, recognising that passengers don't want to keep flying to the same old destinations."
He added: "The focus for EasyJet should not be Ryanair's successful route network but EasyJet's abysmal punctuality, high fares, what it will call itself after Stelios takes the ‘Easy' brand back, and on the fact that EasyJet can't compete with Ryanair on price or service."
Mr Simmons admitted EasyJet had suffered punctuality problems, but pledged passengers would see improvements this summer.
The airline's Edinburgh flights were delayed by an average of nearly 20 minutes between January and March, compared with 11 minutes from January to June last year, according to the Flightontime website.
Mr Simmons said: "We have had problems with lack of crew cover, and air traffic control problems in France and Greece."
He said these had had knock-on problems for Scottish flights because aircraft were rotated round its European network.
"However, we now have a good operation, which is a lot more resilient and will be strong for the rest of the summer," he added.
Mr Simmons, who met city council and business leaders during his visit, said: "We are always looking for growth and we will see what else we can do, including in bringing more people into Scotland."
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Wednesday 22 May 2013
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