Ryanair blames Brexit for Glasgow base closure

The airline says it cannot continue to pay the flat-rate air passenger duty

Ryanair blames Brexit for Glasgow base closure

File photo of a Ryanair plane, 04-10-17. Image: Niall Carson/PA Wire/PA Images

Ryanair is to dramatically slash its presence at Glasgow Airport.

The airline announced on Tuesday it is closing its Glasgow International base due to uncertainty created by Brexit.

It is reducing its 23 Glasgow routes to three - Dublin, Rostov and Krakov.

One aircraft and nine routes will move to Edinburgh Airport instead.

The cuts place 300 jobs based out of Glasgow Airport at risk, Radio Clyde News reported.

Eleven new routes will be added to Edinburgh as it has a more balanced inbound and outbound passenger flow, the airline said.

Ryanair COO David O'Brien said: "We think Brexit is particularly threatening to Scotland and its economy, and particularly to the aviation industry.”

"Sadly our Glasgow base will close, about half a million of those passengers will transfer through Edinburgh,” he said.

Air passenger duty

He lashed out at the British Government over the flat-rate air passenger duty charged at UK airports.

“The weaker Scottish economy is even weaker in Glasgow and we simply can't bear the air passenger duty of £13 (€14.70)," he said.

"£13 is more than a third of Ryanair's average fare.

"So the very, very good work of the hardworking management team and staff at Glasgow Airport to produce an efficient airport is undone by a flat tax which pays no attention to the airport charge or the airfare paid by the passenger.

"This should not come as a surprise to the Government.

"We told the Government our growth at Glasgow was based on their promise to abolish APD which subsequently morphed into a promise to have APD.

"We have lost patience, there are other markets in Europe and the UK which offer more compelling propositions."

Brexit uncertainty

Mr O'Brien also hit out at the British Government over Brexit, noting that it is impossible for businesses to know what will happen if the politicians do not.

The move comes just 24 hours after Ryanair pilots called for the airline's chief executive, Michael O'Leary, to quit after 23 years in the job.

A letter from the European Employee Representative Council (EERC) - an unofficial body representing mostly pilots based on the continent - tells him the no-frills carrier has failed to stem an exodus of pilots to rivals.

Holiday strikes

Ryanair faced down a wave of anger before Christmas by saying it would, for the first time in its history, recognise unions.

The airline withdrew 20,000 flights, affecting 700,000 customers, blaming a pilot rota blunder.

While the unions’ climbdown averted the prospect of strikes during the crucial festive season, the airline has only struck a recognition deal with a union representing British-based flyers since then.

Mr O'Leary has admitted strikes are likely over Easter as a result of continuing issues, though the EERC has dismissed that as "alarmist" and continued to offer mediation services.