(Updates with quotes from Ryanair spokeswoman)
DUBLIN, June 27 (Reuters) - Ryanair is very unlikely to deploy new planes on United Kingdom routes next year and will focus on the European Union instead after Britain voted to leave the bloc, the Irish airline 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.
Its shares have fallen over 23 percent since the United Kingdom voted on Thursday to leave the European Union.
Chief Executive Michael O’Leary, one of the most vocal business leaders campaigning in favour of continued EU membership, had repeatedly warned he would cut investment in Britain if it voted to leave.
“It’s unlikely we will base any additional aircraft in the UK in 2017 as they will be allocated to European Union airports instead,” a Ryanair spokeswoman said in an emailed reply to questions.
Earlier on Monday O’Leary told the Wall Street Journal the airline planned to “pivot all of our growth into the European Union,” but that the airline’s overall growth targets remained unchanged.
The Irish-registered airline said it may consider setting up a UK operating licence if Britain fails to secure full access to European Union’s Open Skies air traffic system.
Ryanair expects passenger volumes from the United Kingdom will grow relative to last year, but that fares would be lower, the spokeswoman said.
However, weakness in sterling, whose value has fallen from 1.31 euros to 1.20 since Britain’s vote, is likely to have a negative impact on Ryanair’s earnings, which are reported in euros. (Reporting by Conor Humphries; Editing by Ruth Pitchford and David Evans)
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