Ryanair to cut investment in Britain if it leaves EU-O'Leary

STANSTED, England, May 16 (Reuters) - Ryanair could cut the amount it invests in Britain if the country votes to leave the European Union in next month’s referendum, Chief Executive Michael O’Leary said on Monday.

The Irish low-cost airline, Europe’s largest by passenger numbers, flies 40 million of its 100 million-plus passengers a year to and from the United Kingdom and has its largest hub at London’s Stansted Airport.

O’Leary said on Monday that the firm would open a new European training centre at Stansted, creating around 450 new jobs in Britain as part of the $1.4 billion it invests in the country.

However at an event with British finance minister George Osborne, O’Leary said jobs and investment could be put in jeopardy if Britain votes to leave the 28-member bloc on June 23.

“Let me put it simply, if Britain isn’t a member of the EU these investments, these jobs will be going to other countries. That’s why Ryanair is campaigning so strongly for Britain to remain in the EU,” he said.

“If Britain leaves the single market Britain may be forced out of the Open Skies regime and airfares and the cost of holidays will rise. That’s not speculation, that’s a certainty.” (Reporting by Andy Bruce, writing by Kate Holton, editing by David Milliken)