Ryanair warns of 'sizeable' fare hikes from April
RYANAIR is planning significant fare increases in April. These will be the airline's first price rise in four years.
The low-cost airline last night blamed the Government's €10 travel tax and a rise in charges at the capital's airport for their increase in fares.
Ryanair will also announce a reduced service from Dublin for the coming summer season today.
Last summer, the airline announced it was slashing its flights from Dublin Airport by about 20pc this winter compared to winter 2008, blaming the cost of operating from the capital.
Howard Millar, Ryanair's chief financial officer and deputy chief executive, last night claimed the Government's €10 travel tax cost the airline €70m over the past year.
Mr Millar declined to say how much the fares would rise by, but warned the percentage increase would be "significant".
He earlier told an audience of roughly 800 delegates attending an aviation industry financial conference in Dublin that the move would affect passenger numbers from Ireland.
The Ryanair executive also said that directly raising fares this year would only happen in Ireland, due to the unique set of charges being levied against airlines here. He added that in a wider European context, Ryanair would seek to raise its yield -- or the average fare passengers pay -- by reducing the number of free seats or very low-cost seats it typically offers. Ryanair has cut fares by about 20pc in the 12 months to the end of next March as it tries to attract passengers in the grip of recession.
Mr Millar's comments came as the Dublin Airport Authority told existing airlines servicing the capital's airport that it would not charge them any passenger fees for the first year of service of any new short-haul route, while deep discounts would apply over a three-year period.
The incentive will apply to routes launched to anywhere in Europe and will also be available to any new airline that wants to launch services from Dublin. Passenger traffic at Dublin Airport has fallen from a peak of 23.5 million in 2008 to about 19.5 million in 2009.
Mr Millar described the expanded incentives being offered by the DAA as a "knee-jerk reaction".
"It's like closing the stable door once the horse has bolted and is about 10 miles away," he said.
He also reiterated previous comments made by Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary that the airline's stake in Aer Lingus was for sale to anyone who wanted it, conceding that it was unlikely anyone would be interested in acquiring it.
Ryanair has made two failed bids for Aer Lingus, and Mr O'Leary has said a third offer is unlikely to be forthcoming.