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Ryanair tells airports to 'expect to share pain' of fuel hike

Ryanair has told the owners of the 60 airports it flies to it expects them to "share the pain" of a €400 million cost-cutting drive over the next 12 months.

The low-cost carrier is holding one-to-one meetings in Dublin with the airport operators as it kicks off an austerity plan which it says is due to rises in fuel prices and its wish to avoid fare increases.

Ryanair expects its fuel bill in the next financial year to rise by €400 million. "That's the amount we need to take out to guarantee our fixed fares," says head of communications Peter Sherrard.

As well as a pay freeze for 36 senior managers, Ryanair is also rolling out automated check-in facilities at Dublin and London Stansted, and eventually its other 25 bases, to save on airport costs: virtually all Ryanair's check-in services are contracted out.

It is also wants to persuade more passengers not to check-in luggage. Four in ten Ryanair passengers fly with hand baggage only and the airline want to push this figure to half this year.

The airline will also be meeting with other suppliers - including maintenance and catering - in an attempt to negotiate lower rates.

Ryanair's fuel hedging - it had been buying almost all its fuel at $65 a barrel this year - runs out on 31 March, and the carrier will have to pay spot prices which are as much as $100 a barrel.

Sherrard says the cost-cutting will not affect the airline's fleet plans. It has 163 Boeing 737-800s on order for delivery to 2012.

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