Ryanair boss axes services at Shannon Airport
RYANAIR chief Michael O'Leary last night launched another broadside at the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) as he cut the airline's business at Shannon Airport.
The airline is cutting business at Shannon by more than a fifth after it decided to discontinue its Shannon-to-Paris service and cut weekly flights to London on routes to Gatwick (from 14 to 12 flights) and Stansted (from 26 to 22 flights).
Mr O'Leary said the decision would mean a fall of 105,000 passengers at the airport and a loss of 100 jobs in the region.
He said Shannon's affairs were dictated by the DAA and he would not have imposed yesterday cuts had passenger charges at the Co Clare airport not been increased from November 1.
"I believe the DAA is now bankrupt. They have a debt of €1.2bn, they make no money," Mr O'Leary said. "They are going to open up a brand new shiny terminal and take half the passengers out of the first terminal, which is already empty, and put them in there."
The colourful businessman said the DAA was "useless" and run by "morons".
"You wouldn't even give them a job in FAS," he quipped.
The DAA has invested close to €100m in Shannon Airport over the last decade, including upgrading the airfields and terminal facilities.
A further €40m was made available to deliver a cost-cutting programme at the airport in 2007 and 2008.
In 2007, 3.6 million passengers went through the airport. It is projected that only 1.6 million passengers will use the Co Clare airport this year.
"It (Shannon) is dying on its feet. We have gone from 35 routes to six in two years -- these are mobile assets, they go elsewhere," Mr O'Leary said.
Even if the Government reversed the controversial €10 travel tax, Mr O'Leary said he would not be prepared to invest in the country's main airports.
The Ryanair chief urged the Government to "scrap taxes and lower costs" if they wanted the airline to bring investment and generate jobs.
A Shannon Airport spokes- man said: "While we regret any reduction in services, the cutting of the Paris Beauvais route is surprising as it is had been strong performing -- with a load factor of 89pc in August."
Following yesterday's cuts at Shannon, Clare County Council called on the Shannon Airport Authority's Chairman, Brian O'Connell, to outline what plans there are for the airport's future business.