Low-cost airline Ryanair is announcing 10 new routes out of Liverpool to Italy, France, Sweden and Eastern Europe but warns UK air tax could cost the city new routes in the future. Tony McDonough reports
Ryanair is launching 10 new routes out of Liverpool taking it’s total number to more than 30.
However, in an interview with LBN, the airline’s director of commercial, Jason McGuinness, warned Liverpool would miss out on future expansion unless the UK Government scrapped Air Passenger Duty (APD).
“At £13 per passenger, APD puts UK airports at a competitive disadvantage to airports across mainland Europe,” said Mr McGuinness.
“There are currently four aircraft based at Liverpool. We employ 120 people directly here and support the jobs of a further 2,000 people. Next year I have 50 new aircraft to allocate and, because of APD, I am much more likely to allocate one in Italy than somewhere such as Liverpool.”
On Wednesday Ryanair announced it was launching five new routes out of Liverpool for this summer to Rome, Kosice in Slovakia, Kaunas in Lithuania, Zadar in Croatia and the Greek island of Kos.
It’s winter 2021 schedule, which begins in October, will see new flights to Arlanda, serving Stockholm, Milan Bergamo, Paris Beauvais, Sibiu in Romania and Tallinn in Estonia. It takes the total for its summer schedule out of Liverpool John Lennon Airport to 32 and its winter schedule to 28.
Ryanair has already added five new European routes out of Liverpool in the first half of 2021, despite the impact of the pandemic on air travel. With the introduction of the new routes it will see Ryanair carry 1.9m passengers a year in and out of the airport.
“Liverpool is a very important base for us,” added Mr McGuinness. “And we are aware of our importance to the local area. We work well with our colleagues at the airport and we definitely want to grow here.”
In April Ryanair reported full-year losses of more than €800m but Mr McGuinness said the airline’s recovery was now well under way and it was hoped there would be a return to profitability in the next full year. Earlier this week easyJet said it was now running at 60% of pre-pandemic capacity but Mr McGuinness said Ryanair was already above 80%.
He said: “We are recovering very quickly. While other airlines across Europe are cutting capacity, we are growing ours. In April we carried 1m passengers and in July we now expect to be carrying around 9m passengers.
“We are spending £22bn on new 2010 aircraft. They are much quieter, with a 40% reduction in noise, and much better for the environment, using 16% less fuel. There will be fewer airlines post-pandemic but we will be getting bigger.”
“However, we are recovering more quickly in Europe than we are in the UK and Ireland. We consider those countries outliers when it comes to how poorly they are dealing with the recovery from the pandemic in terms of aviation.
“We just don’t understand the traffic light system for travel being used by the UK Government. It is not fit-for-purpose. The UK’s vaccination programme has been an incredible success with 70% of the adult population now vaccinated.
“Inter-European travel is already allowed across Europe. We believe people in the UK who have been vaccinated should be able to travel freely across Europe. The current policy is hampering the recovery. Our UK schedules are behind Europe at the moment and that is because of the uncertainty of the traffic light system.”
Paul Winfield, Liverpool John Lennon Airport’s director of aviation development, said: “These new routes demonstrate Ryanair’s commitment to Liverpool and to passengers from across the North West and North Wales, who can take advantage of the convenience of flying from Liverpool to a growing range of destinations over the coming months, as we continue to recover from the pandemic.”