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Last Updated: Friday, 28 October 2005, 14:51 GMT 15:51 UK
Newquay fee 'ended Europe plans'
Ryanair generic
Ryanair says 100,000 fewer people will come to Cornwall
An airline says it might have started flying direct from Cornwall to Barcelona, if a surcharge for departing passengers had not been introduced.

Ryanair has objected to the 5 surcharge imposed at Newquay airport by Cornwall County Council to help reduce a deficit of more than 1m a year.

The so-called airport development fee which begins on Saturday is the first to be introduced at a UK airport.

The county council said it had received no such offer.

Flights dropped

Ryanair, which fears other UK airports will follow Newquay's example, said it had tried to persuade the county council not to bring in the surcharge.

The airline is halving the number of winter flights out of Newquay next month from two to one in protest at the surcharge and has threatened to pull out altogether.

Deputy CEO Michael Cawley told BBC News the firm had promised new routes, including Newquay-Barcelona and possibly a route to Italy.

Ryanair passengers at Newquay Airport
Newquay passengers will pay the surcharge at new ticket machines
He said that more passengers would have meant more revenue, but the surcharge will mean fewer passengers.

He said: "We would have gone from Newquay directly to continental Europe.

"We've been working with the county council and our suggestion was to increase the number of passengers.

"The airport costs will be there whether they have a million passengers or none."

Andrew Mitchell, the county councillor who chairs the committee responsible for Newquay airport, said he had not heard of any such offer from Ryanair, despite having conversations with Ryanair bosses.

Engineers at Newquay are carrying out final checks for the introduction of the surcharge.

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