Ryanair denies Brexit backtracking as it expands London operations

Michael O'Leary had said a 'Yes' vote would mean a significant decrease in UK interest

Ryanair denies Brexit backtracking as it expands London operations

Niall Carson PA Wire/Press Association Images

Ryanair is insisting that the new expansion plan it has agreed with the owners of Stansted Airport doesn’t represent a reversal of its post-Brexit position.

Following the UK’s vote for Brexit last June – which Michael O'Leary campaigned vigorously against – the airline's boss said that the decision could be disastrous for the UK economy. He also warned that Ryanair could cut services there and instead focus its expansion on other European markets

O'Leary said in May:

"Let me put it simply, if Britain isn't a member of the EU these investments, these jobs will be going to other countries."

The airline has now signed a deal with Stansted owners Manchester Airports Group (MAG) to add nine new routes at the airport, with destinations including Copenhagen, Naples, Nimes and Strasbourg. It will take the annual passenger numbers at Ryanair’s largest single base to more than 20 million.

Despite the development, chief commercial officer David O'Brien said:

"Brexit hasn't happened. And if we're to wait around until some clear thinking emerges, we wouldn't do anything."

O'Brien revealed that Ryanair has taken the "prudent" decision to only expand UK capacity by 7% this year, down from 15% in 2016.

MAG has stressed that Stansted itself hasn't suffered from the Brexit decision as yet.