February 21, 2012 7:26 pm

Ryanair to cut flight capacity at Edinburgh

Ryanair said it would cut five routes from its summer schedule at Edinburgh Airport just as shortlisted bidders in the contest to acquire one of the UK’s fastest growing airports begin due diligence.

The Irish carrier blamed its decision, which should reduce passenger numbers by 300,000 this year, on the airport owner’s refusal to reduce take-off and landing fees. “While Ryanair remains committed to Edinburgh Airport ... BAA Edinburgh cannot continue to ignore the competitive marketplace,” said Michael O’Leary, Ryanair’s chief executive.

BAA played down the capacity cuts, pointing out that three of the routes on the chopping block – from Edinburgh to Malmo, Murcia and Ibiza – were launched only last month, and questioned Mr O’Leary’s assertion that the changes would endanger 300 jobs at the airport.

“BAA employs 500 people at the airport in total, so the job losses they’re talking about do seem excessive,” the company said.

But the spat underscores the challenges for future owners of the airport, which BAA is selling under orders from the UK Competition Commission.

Shortlisted bidders are understood to include Global Infrastructure Partners; JPMorgan Asset Management; and consortiums led by the private equity groups 3i and Carlyle.

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