Ryanair to scrapLondon-Charleroi route
26 February 2004 BRUSSELS - Cut price Irish airline Ryanair on Thursday announced that it will cease flying between Charleroi and London and has hinted that it may cut more routes out of the south Belgian airport.
Charleroi-London flights will end on April 29 the airline said in a statement.
Ryanair said the decision to scrap the popular connection came as a direct result of the European Commission’s demand earlier this month that the airline pay pack part of a multi-million euro handout it received from the Belgian authorities to encourage it to develop its activities at Charleroi.
Around 360,000 people a year currently use the London-Charleroi route, which Ryanair bills as the cheapest way to travel between the UK capital and Brussels. The airline says using the route allows passengers travelling between London and Brussels to save a total of EUR 36 million a year.
“As the Brussels-London route had the lowest fares, this route cannot be sustained if costs are to be increased as a result of the Commission’s decision to increase ticket prices by between EUR 6 and EUR 8 a ticket,” Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary said in a statement released on Thursday.
O’Leary said Ryanair would meet shortly with the authorities at state-owned Charleroi airport to “agree a way forward”.
He added that if the airport managers there did not agree to absorb at least some of the extra costs imposed on his airline by the Commission ruling, then Ryanair may pull out of Charleroi altogether.
“If these talks result in a new agreement with a similar low cost base as before then Ryanair’s low fares will continue at Charleroi. However if costs are increased, or the Walloon authorities do not share our vision for the lowest possible airfares for ordinary people then there will be further flight reductions and route closures,” O’Leary said.
Ryanair has said it will fight the Commission’s ruling at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg but several leading Walloon politicians recently argued that such a move could backfire and it is not yet clear whether the region will back the Irish airline’s planned legal action.
Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Belgian news