Budget airline, Ryanair, has added routes from Leeds-Bradford Airport to four destinations on the continent – Barcelona in Spain, Dusseldorf in Germany, the Canary Island of Fuerteventura, and Gdansk in Poland. The airline hopes that the new flights will sustain 1,000 jobs in West Yorkshire.
At the end of June, Ryanair’s outspoken CEO, Michael O’Leary, was vocal in his praise for Leeds-Bradford, after the airport cut its landing fees and passenger taxes. The Irishman claimed that Leeds was following the example set by airports in Holland, Spain, and Belgium, by making air travel cheaper for both airlines and customers.
The UK, on the other hand, has made its aviation industry suffer, according to O’Leary. ‘For an island nation to be taxing tourists at a time when Europe is making travel cheaper is insanely stupid.’ The executive was referring to the UK’s Air Passenger Duty, which places an £11 charge on every airline seat.
Leeds-Bradford is one of just two UK hubs to have experienced growth in the past year, alongside Scottish hub, Edinburgh. The two airports are also the only Ryanair bases to have avoided a cull of winter flights. The airline has cut 16% of its seasonal flights from the UK, and sent the extra planes to European bases.
Ryanair claims that its new routes from Leeds, in combination with the eleven winter routes already offered by the airline, will attract one million passengers a year to the West Yorkshire hub. The number of flights available is a direct contrast to winter 2009, when Ryanair had just three flights out of Leeds-Bradford.
Both airport and airline expressed their ‘delight’ at the development. Tickets for Ryanair’s new routes are already on sale.