Ryanair is to divert expansion away from the UK next year and concentrate on the European Union after Britain’s Brexit vote.
Chief executive Michael O’Leary, a vocal campaigner in favour of remaining in the EU, had repeatedly warned he would cut investment in Britain if it voted to leave.
“We will pivot all of our growth into the European Union,” he told the Wall Street Journal, adding that the budget airline’s overall growth targets remained unchanged.
O’Leary said he expected Britain to negotiate some sort of access to the EU market, but that if it failed, Irish-registered Ryanair could seek a UK operating licence.
He said he expected three or four months of “considerable uncertainty” due to the British vote, but forecast a limited impact on near-term bookings to and from the UK.
Bookings were “pretty strong” in June, July and August, but that a weaker sterling would hurt the carrier’s earnings, which are reported in euros.
The low-cost airline flies 40 million of its 100 million-plus passengers a year to and from the UK and has its largest hub at Stansted.
Its shares have fallen over 23% since the UK voted on Thursday to leave the EU, prompting profit warnings from rival easyJet and British Airways owner International Airlines Group.
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