Ryanair closes Valencia after ultimatum

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Ryanair has carried out its threat to close its Spanish base of Valencia leading to the loss of 70 flights and says it will details plans for a new European site in the next week.

Announcing the news this morning, the Irish budget carrier maintains its move is based on the Comunitat Valenciana regional government's decision not to award it marketing support, but instead to grant €12m ($15m) to local carrier Air Nostrum.

Ryanair says that closure of the Valencia base, where it operated two aircraft, will lead to the loss of 70 weekly flights carrying 750,000 passengers and 750 jobs in the region, although it holds out the possibility of returning "if conditions were appropriate".

Ryanair deputy chief executive Michael Cawley says: "The naked subsidisation by the Comunitat Valenciana of competitor airlines at the expense of Ryanair and the refusal by the same party to engage in any meaningful discussion, have meant that the continuation of our base at the airport is untenable.

"We have already received numerous enquiries right across Europe and we will be announcing a new base elsewhere next week with these two aircraft."

The news comes just 14 months after Ryanair established its Valencia base with a projected passenger forecast for 2008 of 1.5 million out of a 6 million total at the airport. Ten days ago the carrier warned the Spanish authorities that it was considering withdrawing and maintains that the Comunitat Valenciana "turned down all reasonable requests for meetings."

Ryanair had previously announced it would stop services at Valencia for six weeks leading up to the start of the Christmas holidays in tandem with similar capacity reductions across six other European airports.

It will close nine Valencia routes from 4 November, though it will continue a limited service to Valencia from London Stansted.

ATI contacted the local government and airport in Valenica but no reply was forthcoming.