Leeds is Ryanair’s 34th hub in the world, and the airline’s only active base in Yorkshire, following its desertion of Robin Hood Airport in August last year. The carrier claims that its total investment will exceed £90m, and sustain more than 1000 jobs, both at the airport and in the surrounding towns and cities.
Michael O’Leary, the boss of Ryanair, is not known for his people skills, but his business philosophy is admirable. Ryanair has expanded at a prodigious rate since its birth in 1985, cornering a large majority of the British holiday market, and carrying more passengers per year than EasyJet, its bitter rival.
The airline’s new Leeds base will offer 14 new routes to continental Europe, in addition to the three that Ryanair already operates from the airport. The routes include Dublin, Ibiza, Krakow, and the walled city of Carcassonne in southern France. Ryanair intends to keep its destinations affordable, warning of ‘like-for-like’ price cuts if Jet2 begins to offer cheaper flights.
‘We don’t see Jet2 as competition.’ Ryanair’s Stephen McNamara explained. ‘It’s a relatively small company, but if Jet2 come out with a spring sale with 50% off flights then we will match that.’ Airport bosses noted that the two airlines are not in direct competition, as only half of the new routes are served by both carriers.
The airline hopes to attract 1m passengers a year to its new base.