Ryanair warns of French route cuts if taxes don’t change

FRENCH CONNECT 2010: Although Ryanair “has excellent relations with 27 airports in France, at the end of the day the passengers we bring are a commodity – and that commodity can go elsewhere,” the airline’s route development director Ken O’Toole has warned airport delegates in Lourdes.

In France, the airline has introduced 34 new routes across 14 airports (and expects to fly 8 million passengers through French airports this year). “This is despite one of the highest levels of governmental taxes and charges in Europe.” This, he noted, explains why with al;l the routes it has in France, Ryanair only has Marseille as a base in the country.

In driving the airline’s network decisions, O’Toole confirmed that cost remains first, both airport and governmental related. In Spain, he noted, Ryanair pays €12 per passenger versus €20 in France. “When you are making a profit of less than €10 per passenger, that difference is crucial,” he added in defence of his warning.

Further outlining what the airline wants when considering a route, O’Toole called for good regulatory environments, keeping facilities under control with the capability for passenger walk on/off to create cheaper operational costs, operational excellence with 25 minute turnrounds, punctuality and no baggage losses. “We lose 0.3 bags per thousand passengers, whereas Air France loses 18. It would cost us €40 million to repatriate those bags if that was our figure,” he stressed.

O’Toole declared that these requirements reinforce a Ryanair belief that the airport delegates should appreciate, namely that “there is not a market that cannot be expanded via low-fares”.

Bernie Baldwin, editor, Low-Fare & Regional Airlines/LARAnews.net

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