19/10/2007

Ryanair Hits Out As Aer Lingus Takes Flight

The latest news on the controversal Aer Lingus move to a Belfast operation - closing the Shannon-Heathrow route - is that its biggest rival (and ironically, its biggest shareholder), Ryanair is to provide three additional daily flights to London from Shannon Airport to ensure capacity and traffic does not fall as a result of the closure.

N I Travel News, the leading travel trade publication, has reported that the low cost carrier will not “abandon 330,000 passengers” who currently use Shannon to London flights.

The paper said that Ryanair will increase its service from four to seven flights daily, providing Shannon passengers with daily connections to three London airports including Gatwick and Stansted, which offer more destinations and connections to Europe than London Heathrow does presently.

Further, Ryanair also announced that it had written to Aer Lingus requesting that an Extraordinary General Meeting of Aer Lingus be called, to allow Aer Lingus shareholders the opportunity to exercise their statutory right to consider requesting the Board and management of Aer Lingus to reverse the Shannon closure decision and maintain Aer Lingus's four daily flights between Shannon and Heathrow.

The airline has also suggested that Aer Lingus consider using the recently announced four daily Dublin-Gatwick flights as a suitable compromise, alongside its new Belfast base.

This would allow Aer Lingus to operate Belfast-London Gatwick flights four times daily, while retaining Shannon-Heathrow four times daily services.

Alternatively Aer Lingus could operate four daily flights from Belfast to Heathrow using two of Aer Lingus's existing Heathrow slots which are currently used for flights to Dublin and Cork, as well as the two Heathrow slots which are leased out to other airlines.

Ryanair's, Michael O'Leary said: "As Shannon's largest airline, Ryanair is determined to ensure that Shannon and the Mid-West region will suffer no loss of traffic or flights as a result of Aer Lingus's decision to abandon Shannon in favour of Belfast.”

(BMcC)

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