Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has insisted that the airline’s growth at Dublin Airport has not “topped out” following a decision to cut capacity at the capital next summer.
The airline will reduce the number of seats out of Dublin by about 370,000, or 3pc, as it redeploys the capacity elsewhere on its network in Europoe.
Mr O’Leary blamed the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) for a failure to offer an extension to route incentives for Ryanair’s decision.
“We’ve been unable to get an answer from the DAA about the extension of growth discounts for 2017,” Mr O’Leary said.
He insisted the DAA had adopted a “remarkable position” of saying it would wait to see what route announcements were made by carriers for 2017 before deciding on what growth discounts would be.
Dublin Airport managing director Vincent Harrison said the semi-state airport operator is “disappointed” that the airline has decided to reduce capacity at Dublin, and that its growth incentive scheme remains in place.
He said that Dublin Airport looks forward to working closely with Ryanair.
The DAA said that Ryanair’s growth at Dublin Airport over the past three years has been supported by a range of incentive schemes, most notably the growth incentive scheme.
It pointed out that since 2011, it has paid €34.2m in airport charges rebates to airlines under its main growth scheme, which rewards airlines for adding to overall passenger numbers.
Separate incentive schemes to promote the introduction of new short-haul and long-haul routes are also in place at Dublin. “I’m not sure if we’ve topped out in terms of growth at Dublin,” said Mr O’Leary.
He added that a second main runway at Dublin would be welcome but again questioned the cost of the overall project, at €320m.
He also insisted the planned length of the runway – at just over 3km – is too long for what would be required by Ryanair.
The DAA could raise passenger charges to help pay for the new runway, which is due to be operational by 2020.
Mr O’Leary said that Ryanair’s future plans at Dublin will depend on what the DAA does there in relation to pricing. Ryanair – which will take delivery of 50 new aircraft over the winter – will operate 85 routes from Dublin next summer, the same number as the summer just ended.
It will increase frequencies on Spanish routes to Palma, Reus and Tenerife.
But the capacity cut is the equivalent of about 1,900 flights out of the capital being axed next summer.
Ryanair’s chief marketing officer, Kenny Jacobs, said that the airline is also expecting a softening of demand into Ireland from the UK due to the fall in the value of sterling since June’s Brexit vote.
However, Mr O’Leary said Ryanair will soon announce an expansion of its services at Belfast International Airport for next summer. Ryanair will have 14 summer routes in Shannon, 17 in Cork,12 at Knock and five in Kerry.
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