Ryanair is poised to launch more UK domestic flights if the Government cuts Air Passenger Duty (APD).
The airline is looking at flights from regional airports to link into services from its main hub airports.
Currently, it operates only a small handful of domestic services, including from Edinburgh to London Stansted and Derry and from Liverpool to Derry.
But Ryanair DAC CEO Eddie Wilson said the airline is interested in expanding domestic flights ‘if the Government does something on APD’.
When asked at the Routes Reconnected virtual conference if there was an opportunity for Ryanair to capitalise on the boom in UK staycations, Mr Wilson scoffed: “We don’t have the infrastructure in Ireland and in the UK for staycations.
“If the product was that good there’d be lots of inbound traffic and there isn’t lots of inbound traffic; when people come to the UK they go to London and you try and drag them up to see Stratford-on-Avon to see Shakespeare and that’s about as far as they go.
“You might get the odd surfer going down to Newquay but staycations will all be forgotten about, people want to go to Spain, they’ll go to the Greek islands any day of the week.”
But he said Ryanair was interested in domestic flights to boost connectivity. “If the government does something with APD I think there is huge potential for connectivity within the UK for people to get around and that is certainly something we would respond to.
We have heard rumours that they are going to cut the tax, or cut it in half, and certainly we would like at that in conjunction with the CAA, we have the set up already with Ryanair UK, we hope to do something there, not because of the overwhelming staycation pent up demand of which non-exists – Wilson
Mr Wilson said across Europe he expects short-haul flight capacity to shrink by almost a third from next winter.
“There’s going to be a hell of a lot less capacity around,” he said. “The days of unbridled growth when airports wait to see who shows up are over.”
Mr Wilson said the financial woes of the likes of Norwegian, Air France and Lufthansa, which have been forced to take on huge amounts of debt to survive the pandemic, will limit growth.
“I would estimate that European short-haul capacity might shrink by up to about 30% from next winter,” he added.
However, he insisted that Ryanair will continue to expand, with its growth fuelled by the arrival of 210 more cost-efficient Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, the first of which are due to join its fleet in May.
“We have a lot more announcements coming,” he teased.
He claimed rival carriers, such as Air France and Lufthansa, will be unable to compete as they’ll be constrained by the governments who have bailed them out during the crisis.
“We are going to have lower prices, we are going to have competition, but I think airports are going to be flailing around looking for traffic and Ryanair are going to be the only ones to have it, with 210 aircraft on the way.
“We will be the only show in town of any sort of value for European airports for the next four to five years.”
In terms of new product, he said Ryanair was looking at providing onboard wifi, but he said the airline wanted to make sure it was able to offer this on every seat on every flight.
“We have a few things up our sleeve and I think will be making announcements on the customer service side,” he added.