Europe’s biggest budget airline is to close its base at Glasgow in November. Ryanair will move the aircraft that currently operates five routes from Glasgow to Edinburgh. It blames Air Passenger Duty (APD), the £13 tax on all departing passengers aged 16 or over.
The airline’s chief commercial officer, David O’Brien said: “Ryanair regrets these cuts in the weaker Glasgow market where efforts to stimulate low fare demand are severely hampered by the continuing burden of APD.” The £13 tax represents about one-third of Ryanair’s average fare. In 2016, the Scottish government vowed to halve APD by 2018, but has since deferred any cut.
An estimated 300 jobs at Glasgow airport will be lost as services to City of Derry, Lisbon, Sofia, Riga and Berlin are transferred to the Scottish capital. While three routes remain at Glasgow, to Dublin, Krakow and Wroclaw, they will be operated by planes and crews based abroad.
Glasgow Airport said it was “bitterly disappointed” by Ryanair’s decision. A spokesman for the airport said there was “no doubt” that the failure to replace air passenger duty (APD) with a cheaper air departure tax (ADT) in Scotland was behind the move, the BBC reported.
The move comes just 24 hours after Ryanair pilots called for the airline’s chief executive, Michael O’Leary, to quit after 23 years in the job.A letter from the European Employee Representative Council (EERC) – an unofficial body representing mostly pilots based on the continent – said the no-frills carrier has failed to stem an exodus of pilots to rivals. Ryanair faced down a wave of anger last year after it was forced to cancel thousands of flights due to a pilot rota blunder.