* Ryanair cuts Budapest operation to 20 routes from 30
* Says cut due to increase in airport charges
* Cut comes months after base set up in wake of Malev
By Gergely Szakacs
BUDAPEST, Nov 22 Budget airline Ryanair
is to cut the number of routes it operates from Budapest by a
third from next year, it said on Thursday, in reaction to an
increase in airport charges.
The move comes just months after Ryanair set up a base at
Budapest following the collapse of Hungary's national airline
Chief Executive Michael O'Leary, who has said financial
problems among flag carriers in Europe offers a major growth
opportunity, said the cuts would be made after airport operator,
Hochtief raised its user charges.
"The strange logic of Budapest (airport) and Hochtief seems
to be, 'we have less traffic so we charge the existing traffic
more'. That recipe is doomed to failure," O'Leary told reporters
at a news conference in the Hungarian capital.
Ryanair moved into Budapest in February with five aircraft
based there now plans to cut that to three and close 10 of the
30 routes operated from Budapest from Jan. 10. The airline said
this would result in a 40 percent fall in Ryanair's passenger
traffic at the airport to 1.2 million per year and would lead to
the loss of 800 local jobs.
Ryanair has previously cut routes from other airports where
it has wanted lower airport charges but the company is not
considering pulling out of Hungary altogether, O'Leary said.
Ryanair said the number of its flights from Budapest would
fall by 110 to less than 170 per week as it would also be
cutting the frequency of its flights on nine of the 20