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Ryanair ‘to shut Clermont Ferrand route’

CLERMONT-FERRAND, France, Dec 4 (AFP) – The Irish low-cost airline Ryanair is to end daily flights from here to London on January 14 seven months after opening the route, a source at the local Clermont-Auvergne aiport said on Thursday.

Ryanair had sent a fax to the airport here in central France saying that although its aircraft had been 90-percent full on the route during the summer, the occupancy ratio had now fallen to about 50 percent.

In September, Ryanair told AFP it was offering free flights from Clermont-Ferrand to London, saying that this was to mark the success of the route since it was opened on May 4.

The local chamber of commerce, the regional council and other public bodies gave the airline aid of EUR 725,000 (USD 870,000) towards its start-up costs for the route and for marketing during the first year of operation.

Ryanair is embroiled in France in hard-hitting public exchanges with the French carrier Air France over fares on other routes. The exchanges arise out of a complaint by an Air France subsidiary against similar payments to the airline by the airport at Strasbourg.

A French commercial court found that the payments amounted to improper subsidies from public funds, since all regional airports in France are run by chambers of commerce which are quasi public bodies

This finding caused Ryanair to halt its Strasbourg route.

The airline is also waiting for EU competition authorities to rule on a complaint that money it has received from the Belgian airport Charleroi amount to a distorion of competition.


                                                                Subject: French news