Irish Airline Ryanair has announced a 40 percent cutback in capacity to its Stansted services this winter, with the number of operational aircraft falling from 40 to 24.
The low-cost carrier says this represents a 30 percent reduction in the number of weekly flights and a loss of 2.5 million passengers at the Essex airport between October 2009 and March 2010.
The airline’s chief executive Michael O’Leary cited Stansted’s high passenger fees as the main reason for the reduction, as well as the increase in airport passenger duty from approximately $16 (£10) to $18 in November despite the current aviation downturn.
He said: “Sadly, UK traffic and tourism continues to collapse while Ryanair continues to grow traffic rapidly in those countries which welcome tourists instead of taxing them.
“Ryanair’s 40 percent capacity cutback at London Stansted shows just how much Gordon Brown’s £10 tourist tax and the BAA Monopoly’s high airport charges are damaging London and UK tourism and the British economy generally.”
“In recent months the Belgian, Dutch, Greek and Spanish governments have all scrapped tourist taxes and/or reduced airport charges to zero in order to stimulate tourism. These cutbacks underline the urgent need to break-up the high cost BAA Airport Monopoly, and scrap Gordon Brown’s insane and damaging £10 tourist tax which has caused UK traffic to collapse.”
Last week, Richard Branson, president of Virgin Atlantic, similarly criticized the tax increase, claiming that it would not only hurt Britain’s travel industry, but countries that depend on British tourists.