Ryanair rescues Branson’s Edinburgh flights
- Budget airlines now dominating Scottish domestic flights
- More pressure mounting on future of Prestwick
No surprise that Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary is to step in and take on some of the Scotland-London flights that Virgin is pulling out of next year. He agreed new services with Edinburgh airport only hours after Sir Richard Branson’s announcement yesterday that flights from the city, Aberdeen and Manchester will end next year. Ryanair will replace some of Little Red’s routes by stepping up its planned three-times a day operation from Edinburgh to Heathrow from 26 October to five times from next September when Little Red services end. It will provide some relief that Scotland will not lose yet another link to London. O’Leary has no immediate plans to return to Aberdeen, but his move to replace lost flights follows easyJet’s decision to take on some of the Bmi flights from Scotland to England after BA was forced to offload them. Ironically, Little Red also took former Bmi flights which is now forfeiting. The budget airline’s decisions to step in does ask questions of the big players, including Virgin, regarding their pricing and costs. They do offer a different model. Where Virgin was dependent on passengers connecting with long-haul flights (which didn’t happen), Ryanair is hoping even the business traveller will be satisfied with cheap and cheerful. For Ryanair this is another step to getting slots at the main airports rather than those miles away from their destination. With more services being planned for both Edinburgh and Glasgow it must raise more questions about its continued loyalty to Prestwick, now owned by the Scottish government.