New aircraft set to fuel Ryanair's expansion bid

New aircraft set to fuel Ryanair's expansion bid

Ryanair is looking at expanding its network to cities in Spain, Denmark, the Netherlands, Austria and Finland.

New aircraft have been ordered for next year which will allow the carrier to significantly expand its Europeannetwork.

The Irish carrier has taken delivery of five new 189-seater Boeing 737-800s this year to allow it to increase capacity on existing routes. However, five more, out of a total $2bn order for up to 45 new jets, will be delivered over May and June 2000 to allow the carrier to add extra destinations from its UK hub at Stansted.

Chief executive Michael O'Leary said he had agreed deals with 30 airports to start new services from the UK to mainland Europe, but he was constrained from launching extra flights by lack of newaircraft.

He said: "We will have dramatic expansion in May and June when the new aircraft arrive."

He added that new routes would be opened to Italy, Germany and France, countries already served by the low-cost carrier.

The airline will concentrate its expansion at Stansted to ensure it keeps its market share in the face of growing competition at London's third airport from Lufthansa, SAS and KLM UK.

Regional airports will see some frequencies rises to Dublin.

This year Ryanair added new services from Stansted to Dinard, Biarritz, Turin, Ancona, Genoa and Frankfurt and a similar number of new routes are expected to start next year.

Sales and marketing director Tim Jeans said if market conditions are right, some could start this winter.

He claimed load factors were 75% for the new routes.

Next year, Ryanair predicts it will carry 7.5m passengers, up from the 6m it forecasts for 1999.

These figures make it the UK's second-largest carrier after British Airways.

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