An expansion of Ryanair services at Leeds Airport could have greater implications for Robin Hood Airport than expected, after the budget airline announced plans to axe all flights from the Doncaster site.
Earlier in the month, Peel Airports, the owner of the Doncaster facility, claimed to be unconcerned by the expansion, believing that just four percent of local residents would choose Leeds Airport over Robin Hood.
Ryanair boss, Michael O’Leary, blamed escalating travel costs for the cull, which saw Robin Hood lose a lucrative St. Patrick’s Day flight to Dublin, and summer routes to Barcelona.
The airline has declined to reinstate winter flights to Dublin unless the government takes steps to remove a €10 travel levy affecting all flights to Ireland. Other routes, including those to Barcelona and Alicante, are expected to return in summer 2010.
O’Leary, famed for his foul-mouthed rants, might have a difficult time convincing Peel Airports of his tight pockets, after his company added fourteen new flights to Edinburgh, and expanded operations at Leeds, Düsseldorf, and Madrid.
The news could devastate Robin Hood’s survival attempts – with a major M18 link road still incomplete, the airport stands to lose a good chunk of its customer base. Dublin was similarly affected, losing ten percent of its foreign traffic in just one month.
Nick Smillie, sales director for Robin Hood Airport, expressed his disappointment at Ryanair’s decision, but remained optimistic, drawing attention to three new TUI routes to Lanzarote, and a popular WizzAir flight to Poland.
Peel Airports has begun prospecting for a replacement flight to Dublin. As of the 25th August, the holding company has yet to find a suitor.