Jobs at risk as Ryanair cuts Glasgow Airport base
The budget airline said its growth plans were always based on the Scottish Government reducing the Air Passenger Duty tax.
Hundreds of jobs are under threat after budget airline Ryanair announced it is to close its base at Glasgow Airport.
The number of routes operated from Glasgow will be reduced from 23 to three, with five being transferred to Edinburgh.
The airline said it had run out of patience waiting for the Scottish Government to reduce Air Passenger Duty (APD) tax.
Glasgow Airport said it was bitterly disappointed by the move.
Chief commercial officer David O’Brien said 300 indirect jobs could be lost at Glasgow due to the move with a potential fall in around 500,000 passengers.
He said: “Sadly the weaker Scottish market is even weaker still in Glasgow which simply can’t bare the burden of APD at £13.
“This should not come as a surprise to the government, we did say that our growth in Glasgow was based on their promise to abolish APD, which morphed into a promise to half APD which suddenly has disappeared into the ether and quite frankly we don’t have any more patience, there are other markets in the UK and Europe which offer a more compelling proposition.”
Mr O’Brien added: “Passengers mean jobs and around 500,000 passengers will be lost at Glasgow pressurising around 300 jobs which will probably be lost.
“The flipside is that you’re looking at around 700 jobs being introduced to Edinburgh.”
Ryanair said Brexit was also a background factor threatening Scottish tourism and the airline industry.
Ryanair, Europe’s No.1 airline, today (27 Feb) announced that it will add 11 new Winter 18 routes to Edinburgh and will close its one aircraft Glasgow International base from November 2018. Read more here https://t.co/arYfT8FDGz pic.twitter.com/JfVsYvf8Or— Ryanair (@Ryanair) February 27, 2018
The airline opened a new base at Glasgow Airport in autumn 2014, one of several new bases opened across Europe that year, but it will only fly to Dublin, Krakow and Wroclaw from Glasgow in its winter 2018 schedule.
It will host 45 routes from Edinburgh including 11 new routes.
Mr O’Brien said APD also disadvantages Edinburgh but that the Scottish capital was a better inbound destination for the airline.
“The sense would be that there is more disposable in the Edinburgh area than there is in the Glasgow area,” he added.
“It’s a more fertile market.”
A spokesman for Glasgow Airport also hit out at APD.
He said: “Despite clear and repeated warnings from both airports and airlines about the potential impact of this policy not being implemented, we are now faced with a stark scenario that includes the loss of 20 services and a significant number of jobs.
“This is the second example in as many months of an airline cutting capacity in Scotland because of the lack of movement on ADT. The reality is this capacity will be reallocated elsewhere in Europe to countries with more favourable aviation taxation policies to Scotland’s detriment.”
Edinburgh Airport chief executive Gordon Dewar added: “I find myself torn between the pleasure of the new routes and the relief really that these cuts being seen at Glasgow are not being suffered in Edinburgh.
“I think that’s a wake up call for the government.
“We’d hoped our growth would be incremental to Scotland but it would appear at last half of this year’s growth is actually at the expense of Glasgow and that can’t be god for the Scottish market and he economic development of our country.”
Scottish Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said: “This news from Ryanair is clearly very disappointing for Glasgow Airport and the staff who will be affected.
“The continued uncertainty around Brexit is having a negative impact on route development in Scotland. We will continue to work to work in partnership with Ryanair and other airlines, and to support all Scottish airports, to do everything possible to grow the number of international routes to and from Scotland.
“The Scottish Government continues to be committed to reducing ADT by 50% by the end of this Parliament and we want to get on and deliver this.
“But this has been deferred until the issues raised in relation to the H&I exemption have been resolved to ensure that the devolved powers are not compromised.”