Budget airline Ryanair has announced that it will make Bratislava its centre for operations in Eastern Europe (EE) instead of Vienna, Austrian Times informs.
Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary said today (Thurs) in Vienna the move would significantly increase the number of passengers at Bratislava airport and give it 20 new routes.
He added that the three aircraft the company, Europe’s largest discount airline, would base at Bratislava airport would result in an additional 560,000 passengers there annually, raising the yearly total to around 2.2 million.
The airport has suffered a 23 per cent decline in passengers this year compared to 2008 – much of which has been put down to the bankruptcy of discount airline SkyEurope.
O’Leary said he had demanded low fees and costs from Bratislava airport in return for making it Ryanair’s Eastern European centre.
He said: "Spanish airports have lowered their fees for the Canary Islands by 100 per cent. Vienna International Airport (VIA) should also do that. 100 per cent is a nice, round number."
O’Leary made news when he hit out at the recent Austrian Airlines (AUA)-Lufthansa deal, calling it "bad for passenger" in late September.
Speaking on Austrian broadcaster ORF, O'Leary said: "(Lufthansa’s takeover of AUA) was bad for passengers, and there will be higher ticket prices and route cuts."
O’Leary refused to reveal whether his company would react to the deal. "I cannot say if we will offer more flights to and from Austria. VIA is demanding ridiculously high fees, and it protects major airlines."
O’Leary said allowing more budget carriers to use the airport would attract more customers. VIA has been experiencing a steadily-decreasing number of passengers. VIA bosses said they expected a year on year drop of nine per cent in 2009 since the number of passengers from January through August had shrunk by 10.8 per cent.