31/01/2003

Ryanair's ‘Buzz’ brings Belfast route closer

Ryanair could be operating from Belfast International Airport (BAI) following the announcement that it has bought over KLM's Buzz for €23.9 million – or just over £15 million.

Buzz currently operates a network of 21 routes from London Stansted to points in Germany, Holland, France and Spain, as well as two French domestic routes. Whilst the organisation of destinations has not yet been confirmed, it is believed that Ryanair has been in talks with BAI to set up a route to the city.

The acquisition of Buzz will allow Ryanair, say the company, to further expand at Stansted, London’s third main airport, and is a "timely strategic move".

Ryanair has said that the deal will be funded through cash reserves – which are said to be worth €1.05 billion – without any recourse to the markets.

According to the company statement: "The management believe that by applying Ryanair’s low fares/low cost formula, the traffic in Buzz can be increased this year from under 2 million to over 4 million passengers and the operating losses will be eliminated and profitability achieved."

The acquisition, which has been approved by the boards of KLM and Ryanair, is expected to be completed, subject to regulatory approval in April.

Ryanair say that they will "significantly rationalise" Buzz’s operations by closing a number of "high-cost unprofitable routes" and operating the remaining routes at increased frequency, lower fares and much lower costs.

Michael O’Leary, Chief Executive of Ryanair said: “The timing of this acquisition is opportunistic. Since Ryanair is growing strongly by rolling out our lowest fare services all over Europe, the last thing we need is the distraction of an acquisition. However there are a number of features of Buzz which makes this a favourable move at this time."

(GMcG)

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