Ryanair’s 7,000 extra jobs claim at Stansted Airport blasted as ‘wild exaggeration’ by campaigners


Ryanair - Credit: Archant

CLAIMS by Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary that an extra 7,000 jobs will be created by its latest deal with Stansted Airport owners Manchester Airport Group has been described by campaigners as “wild exaggeration of the worst kind”.

The Uttlesford transport hub’s largest airline has agreed a new long-term agreement to up its passenger numbers from 13million a year to more than 18m by 2018. It could lead to the creation of up to 7,000 jobs over the next five years, claimed Mr O’Leary.

But Stop Stansted Expansion says the claim “raises false hopes”, and could also be seized upon by developers in their attempts to justify the need for ever more local housebuilding.

SSE says the deal for the next 10 years will do little more than return Stansted to its 2007/08 peak, at which time the airport employed about 2,000 more people than today.

Highlighting the airport’s recent employment record, SSE points out that “if the Michael O’Leary school of logic were to be applied, Stansted would have lost over 6,000 jobs in the past five years”, in line with the fall in annual passenger numbers from 23.8 million to 17.6 million.

SSE’s economics adviser Brian Ross said: “Quite plainly – and thankfully – that scale of job losses has not happened. Michael O’Leary’s claim that 1,000 jobs are created for every extra million passengers is a wild exaggeration.

“In reality, low cost airlines generate about 300 jobs – including indirect jobs – for every million passengers.”

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SSE has also expressed surprise at the “about-turn” which MAG appears to have undertaken to prop up falling passenger numbers.

The airport has planning permission to handle 35 million passengers and 264,000 commercial flights annually and is currently operating at only half those levels.

“When MAG bought Stansted it said that it wanted to make the airport more broadly based, with more airlines and more destinations”, added Mr Ross.

“Ryanair already accounts for three quarters of all Stansted’s passengers and this deal will entrench Ryanair even deeper as the dominant airline at Stansted and reinforce the airport’s reputation as nothing other than a mecca for cheap leisure flights, especially since it comes on top of a similar deal that MAG did with easyJet a few months ago.

“In other words, this is just more of the same and MAG has done exactly the opposite of what it said it would do at Stansted.

“In one respect however, we can fully understand MAG’s decision to strike a deal with Ryanair: Stansted has run up losses of £206m in its past three financial years and in the past 12 months it handled its lowest number of flights for 14 years. Something had to be done and, ultimately, it’s a commercial decision for MAG to decide how best to use Stansted’s spare capacity.”