BUDGET airline Ryanair is to scrap daily flights from Edinburgh to London Stansted, it has been reported.
Europe’s biggest low-cost carrier is cutting several UK domestic routes – partly thought to be in response to the worldwide grounding of the Boeing 737 Max.
It means flights between the Scottish and English capitals will be slashed from four-a-day to four-a-week.
One passenger said: “It’s a total disgrace how this company treats customers.”
The Irish airline had planned to reduce its frequent daily links between Edinburgh and London Stansted from the end of the summer schedules in October.
It would mean no flights between the two on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Ryanair is also cutting back its Stansted-Belfast service from three a day to two a week.
The carrier competes airport-to-airport with easyJet on both routes, making profitability potentially more difficult.
Industry insiders believe the planned cull was brought forward as a result of the worldwide grounding of the Boeing 737 Max after the Ethiopian Airlines tragedy in May. Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET302 crashed soon after take-off from Addis Ababa last month, killing 157 people – leading to a grounding of the aircraft.
Last October, another Boeing 737 Max, Lion Air flight JT 610, crashed into the sea near Indonesia killing all 189 people on board.
Ryanair is understood to have ordered 135 of a special variant of the new jet, known as the Max 200, which includes an extra eight seats.
Forty jets are due to arrive over the coming year, with the first originally expected to arrive at Ryanair’s main base, Stansted, in April ahead of starting flights on May 14.
But there is no indication of when aviation authorities will allow the 737 Max to fly.
Ryanair is faced with either keeping older aircraft in its fleet for longer than expected, chartering in extra capacity or thinning out its schedules.
Domestic services including Edinburgh to Stansted may have fallen victim to the latter option – meaning freed-up planes can be then used on higher-yield services.
Thousands of passengers are already booked on the now-cancelled flights from Edinburgh to Stansted. Ryanair is offering a transfer to one of the surviving services, or a full refund.
But as with the pilots’ roster fiasco in the autumn of 2017, European air passengers’ rights rules require Ryanair to buy tickets on other airlines – which in this case means easyJet.
Meanwhile, pilot and cabin crew shortages at Ryanair’s rival, Flybe, are continuing to cause cancellations.
The working week began with at least ten flights cancelled, including two round trips between Edinburgh and Manchester and the first rotation between Edinburgh and London City.
A spokeswoman for Flybe said: “We have stabilised the situation and our teams are working hard to deliver for our customers.”