RYANAIR boss Michael O’Leary says he plans to expand operations out of Edinburgh, including new flights to Europe.
But he made clear he has no interest in trying to take over the Edinburgh-Heathrow service now to be abandoned by Virgin’s Little Red offshoot.
On a visit to the Capital, Mr O’Leary suggested Edinburgh was a more attractive destination than London for many Europeans.
And he said new routes which the company planned to Europe would be served from Edinburgh.
Ryanair is due to start a three-times-a-day service between Edinburgh and London Stansted later this month, aimed at business passengers and Mr O’Leary said by next summer it would expand to four flights a day.
He claimed the company’s low-price policy would help keep the fares of rivals easyJet and British Airways down as well. But as Little Red announced it would close its Edinburgh-Heathrow route next September, Mr O’Leary said he had no interest in trying to acquire it.
He said: “I wouldn’t go near Heathrow.
“The critical part of our operating efficiency is 25-minute turnarounds. You’re still taxi-ing around Heathrow after 25 minutes.”
But Mr O’Leary said Ryanair would continue to expand its Edinburgh operation. “As we open up new routes across Europe I think we will link those new bases back to Edinburgh.
“Edinburgh is a very attractive destination. A lot of continental Europeans – the Italians, the Spanish, the Germans – are not that keen on going to London. They’re much more keen on travelling to Ireland and Scotland. I think Ireland and Scotland resonate much more with the continental Europeans.
“We’re taking 50 aircraft deliveries from Boeing at the back end of 2015. I would expect to be placing at least one or two of those aircraft here in Edinburgh and beginning a period of sustained new route and traffic growth at Edinburgh and Glasgow.”
Ryanair has announced a £19.99 seat sale on its news Edinburgh-Stansted route, which launches on Sunday, October 26. The special starting price – a third of BA’s and more than 40 per cent cheaper than Easyjet’s – is for travel in October, November and December and available for booking until midnight on Thursday.