Page last updated at 15:14 GMT, Thursday, 17 July 2008 16:14 UK

Ryanair to cut Stansted flights

Ryanair plane
Ryanair is not alone in having to deal with higher operational costs

Ryanair, the budget Irish airline, has said it will cut about 250 flights from Stansted this winter as it tries to offset higher fuel and airport costs.

The cuts would see it carry about 900,000 fewer passengers and trim its Stansted fleet to 28 planes from 36.

This could result in job cuts of between 100 and 150 staff, including cabin crew and ground staff.

Airlines worldwide are battling as consumers rein in their spending, while oil prices notch up record highs.

US crude oil costs soared to $147 a barrel last week, but have since dropped to trade at about $136 a barrel.

Ryanair said in June that if oil prices stayed near $130 a barrel and its fares rose by 5%, then the airline would break even for its fiscal 2008-09 year.

But Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary refused to forecast a loss if oil remained near $140 a barrel.

"What happens depends on what happens to average fares," he said.

"It will depend on how many airlines go bust, and who, when and where."

Flights cut

Ryanair said flights from Stansted would drop to fewer than 1,600 in the winter of 2008-2009, a reduction of about 14%.

The company's winter season runs from October to March.

It also will suspend flights to seven other European airports between 4 November and 19 December.

These include Basel in Switzerland, Budapest in Hungary, Krakow and Rzeszow in Poland, Palma and Valencia in Spain, and Salzburg in Austria.

BA chief on oil fuel prices

On Wednesday, Ryanair said that it was also cutting 12% of its flights from Dublin and the number of aircraft it had in the Irish capital by almost a fifth.

Ryanair's shares climbed by 3% to 3 euros in Dublin.

Airline turbulence

British Airways (BA) is also feeling the pinch.

It warned earlier in the week at its annual general meeting that it would not be able to increase capacity by 2% to 3% this winter, as it had expected, and was now looking at reducing capacity by 3% to 5%.

The firm, which employs 43,000 people in total around the world, said it was considering all options to offset high jet fuel costs, but added that there were no plans to cut jobs.

BA chief executive Willie Walsh told the BBC that the airline would spend 1bn more on fuel costs in its current financial year than over the previous 12 months, despite having bought two-thirds of its fuel requirements at prices much lower than they are currently.

"We are not actually seeing $150-a-barrel oil, as we are 75% hedged against oil price rises," he said.

"We will only be able to tell the true nature of the challenge we are facing over the next 12 to 18 months."


SEE ALSO
Ryanair increases travel charges
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Ryanair faces probe over adverts
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04 Feb 08 |  Business

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