SCOTLAND will be the focus of Ryanair’s planned “strong growth” in the UK over the next four years, chief executive Michael O’Leary said today as he announced a new Glasgow-Berlin route and more flights between the city and Stansted.
The airline will also add a fourth daily Stansted flight from Edinburgh, and add flights on Edinburgh routes to Alicante, Frankfurt Hahn, Krakow, Malaga and Tenerife from October.
The Berlin Schönefeld route from October - Ryanair’s tenth from Glasgow - will initially operate five times a week but Mr O’Leary expects it will soon go daily.
The Berlin route will see Ryanair competing directly with arch-rival EasyJet, which flies to the same airport.
It will coincide with a fourth daily return flight on the Glasgow to Stansted route, which was launched last October.
Flights have been operating 90 per cent full, with a fifth daily service expected to follow.
Mr O’Leary signalled further new routes from Scotland next year when new aircraft arrive from manufacturer Boeing.
He said: “We expect to double in size in the next ten years, and see a significant part of that growth in Scotland.
“We are expecting three to four years of strong growth, with Scotland and Stansted the focus.”
Ryanair has 3.5 million passengers a year in Scotland and nearly 100m overall.
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Mr O’Leary said Ryanair intended to cut fares following a “major fall” in its fuel bill next year after the collapse of the oil price - as it has pre-ordered fuel at a fixed price until then.
The chief executive also predicted Ryanair would overtake EasyJet as Scotland’s number one airline, but conceded it would take longer than becoming pre-eminent across the UK because Ryanair is further behind north of the Border.
He also re-emphasised his commitment to ailing Prestwick Airport, which is down to as little as one flight a day on some weekdays this winter.
However, he said abolition of air passenger duty - which the Scottish Government wants devolved - was “core critical” to the revival of the Ayrshire airport.
Mr O’Leary said the move would double traffic at Prestwick - where Ryanair is the sole passenger airline - from 500,000 to 1-1.5m a year, with the potential to revive its Stansted and Belfast routes.
He admitted the airline had failed to agree terms with the airport’s Scottish Government-controlled management over adding extra flights, but said that was a “fluid, rolling situation” and not uncommon.
He said: “We remain committed to Prestwick, and will not close, partly because we have a maintenance base there.”
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