Ryanair, the world’s most hated airline, is to switch or close nine of the 10 routes it currently operates from Manchester Airport, blaming the airport’s refusal to lower its charges.
The firm said most affected flights would be switched to East Midlands, Leeds Bradford, and Liverpool airports.
Ryanair said the change would result in the loss of up to 600 local jobs, a claim disputed by the airport.
The airport said job losses would be limited, but added that the budget airline’s decision was “regrettable”.
“We also have all but one service that Ryanair offers, served by other airlines that operate at Manchester,” said chief executive of Manchester Airport Group, Geoff Muirhead.
“So the damage will be limited.”
Ryanair’s announcement comes a month after it said it would cut flights from London Stansted by 30% over the winter period, also as a result of a dispute over airport charges.
The nine routes from Manchester that will close are those to Barcelona (Girona), Bremen, Brussels (Charleroi), Cagliari, Dusseldorf (Weeze), Frankfurt (Hahn), Marseille, Milan (Bergamo) and Shannon.
The changes, affecting 44 flights a week, will take effect from 1 October.
The airline said passengers affected by the changes would be e-mailed and, “provided with a full refund, or the alternative of flying to some destinations” from East Midlands, Leeds Bradford and Liverpool.
Ryanair said it had offered Manchester an additional 28 weekly flights if the airport agreed to reduce its charges, but that it had rejected the offer.
However, a spokesman for Manchester Airport said it did not “believe that charges as low as £3 per passenger are unreasonable”.
“We’ve consistently cut our charges for the last 15 years even when faced with increased costs such as security,” he added.