Ryanair has announced it will close its one-aircraft base at Glasgow International airport and move all five routes to Edinburgh airport from November.
The airline’s chief commercial officer, David O’Brien, blames the move on a “weaker Glasgow market”, saying Ryanair’s attempts at stimulating low-fare demand were “severely hampered by the continuing burden of Air Passenger Duty (UK only): An excise duty charged on the carriage of passengers flying on an aircraft with an authorised take off weight of more than ten tonnes or more than twenty seats. Due when ...”.
O’Brien’s comments echo those of International Airlines Group CEO Willie Walsh, who said the high rate of air passenger duty was preventing the company from expanding its new low-cost airline Level into the UK.
In addition to moving its Derry, Lisbon, Sofia, Riga and Berlin services to Edinburgh, Ryanair says it will establish additional routes to Gothenburg, Hamburg, Memmingen, Stockholm Skavsta, Seville and Tallinn for the winter 2018 schedule.
The airline says its summer schedule from Glasgow will operate as planned.
When the five routes move to Edinburgh, Ryanair will only operate three out of Glasgow International, including Dublin, Krakow and Wroclaw.
A spokesman for the airport said: “We are bitterly disappointed at this decision by Ryanair, which is not only damaging for Glasgow and wider Scottish connectivity, but will impact approximately 100 jobs locally. This is a result of the airline’s review of its single aircraft bases, however, we have been left in no doubt it is also a consequence of the Scottish government’s inability to introduce its proposed 50 per cent cut in Air Departure Tax (ADT).
“Despite clear and repeated warnings from both airports and airlines about the potential impact of this policy not being implemented, we are now faced with a stark scenario that includes the loss of 20 services and a significant number of jobs.
“This is the second example in as many months of an airline cutting capacity in Scotland because of the lack of movement on ADT. The reality is this capacity will be reallocated elsewhere in Europe to countries with more favourable aviation taxation policies to Scotland’s detriment. We cannot sit back and risk Scotland’s connectivity being further eroded. It is imperative there is immediate action on ADT.”
Earlier this month, Flybe announced it would cease flying regional routes in Scotland because they were ‘not economically viable’. The Scottish government has proposed a cut in air taxes by switching from the UK’s APD to the reduced ADT system but said in October that the move has to be approved by the European Commission.