Doubt over Ryanair job loss claim as airline cuts Edinburgh routes

Ryanair plane
Ryanair has warned of further significant job cuts in the future

Ryanair's claims that its plans to reduce services from Edinburgh Airport could mean up to 300 job losses have been dismissed by industry insiders.

The budget airline said it would reduce its number of aircraft based there from seven to six and would cut five routes.

This followed the breakdown in talks with operator BAA over a reduction in charges for using the airport.

It will stop flying to Berlin in Germany; Malmo in Sweden; Murcia and Ibiza in Spain; and Tallinn in Estonia.

However, the Tallinn flights are already suspended for the winter and the Malmo, Murcia and Ibiza routes were only announced on 31 January and have not yet begun flying.

At a news conference, Ryanair's chief executive Michael O'Leary claimed hundreds of jobs would go as a result of his company cutting back.

Ryanair said it had based its estimate on Airport Council International research, which suggests that each million passengers support up to 1,000 jobs. The changes are expected to mean a reduction of 300,000 passengers at Edinburgh Airport.

The company does not directly employ any staff at Edinburgh Airport, and a spokesman for its handling agent Servisair said he could make no comment.

However, the BBC understands that there will be "little or no" impact on jobs at the company.

One industry insider said he was "gobsmacked" by Mr O'Leary's claims.

BAA said it would not be making any job cuts, claiming the effect of one fewer aircraft would be minimal at an airport where its 485 employees deal with 9.3 million passengers every year.

Mr O'Leary blamed BAA's "high costs" for the route cuts, accusing the company of rejecting its proposals for a "competitive cost base."

"Sadly BAA Edinburgh seems to prefer higher costs, even if it means fewer passengers and jobs at Edinburgh," he said.

Edinburgh Airport has become the Ryanair's largest hub in Scotland.

'Hard to negotiate'

Its contract with Edinburgh is up for renewal in October and the company warned of "significant further cuts" if the new five year agreement "is not extended on more competitive terms".

BAA is selling Edinburgh Airport following a decision by the Competition Commission with final bids due to be lodged by early April.

Jim O'Sullivan, the managing director of Edinburgh Airport, said it was disappointed that Ryanair has reduced its services.

"We have tried extremely hard to negotiate with Ryanair, but sadly on many issues have not been able to find common ground," he said.

"For example, we cannot accept their wish to not pay the agreed air traffic control costs that all other airlines pay."

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