A potential sell-off of Glasgow airport by owner BAA could trigger the arrival of budget giant Ryanair at the Scottish hub.
Ryanair wants to operate flights between Scotland’s biggest city and holiday destinations, as well as business routes and less typical summer destinations, according to reports attributed to chief executive Michael O’Leary.
But any flights from Glasgow would not affect the carrier’s base at Prestwick, which O’Leary said will still be its main airport for the region.
BAA is expected to be forced to offload either Glasgow or Edinburgh airports along with Stansted under competition rules.
Ryanair has been discussing the possibility of using Glasgow airport since the start of the year but O’Leary said talks may continue for another year as they are still at an earlier stage.
“We started talking to Glasgow International about the possibility of flights,” he said “They are keen. They are not growing very fast at the moment, whereas Edinburgh has been growing rapidly in the last year or two.”
Ryanair’s relationship with the BAA-owned airport was “not good” he said, but added he is optimistic that any sell-off of the site would change that.
“We have been one of the most vocal critics of the BAA airports, particularly the damage they have done to Scottish tourism,” he said. “BAA airports were run from London, by London for London, and I think the sale of Glasgow airport will herald in an era of very aggressive competition between Glasgow and Edinburgh, and that can only be good for passengers and for visitors.”
O’Leary told STV Today: “We like to make money on new routes and we like to make money kicking the high-fare EasyJet around the place as well. We will make money on both.”
A Glasgow airport spokesman said: “Like any airport operator, we meet with airlines on a regular basis. And while we have held exploratory discussions with Ryanair, at no time whatsoever did we receive any serious note of interest from the airline to build a base at Glasgow airport, as they’ve told us they’re happy at Prestwick.”
BAA is likely to be told next week that it must start the process of selling one of the two airports, as well as Stansted, when competition officials release a final report on the airport operator’s presence in the UK.
Any such ruling would uphold a decision reached in March, when the Competition Commission rejected a BAA appeal that it should be allowed to retain the airports.
It is widely expected that the group, owned by Spanish infrastructure giant Ferrovial, will opt to sell Glasgow due to the recent stronger performance of Edinburgh.
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