Ryanair will ground around 20 aircraft this winter to counter the impact of spiralling fuel costs.

Ryanair is embarking on an intensive cost-cutting drive for its 2008-09 financial year as its fuel costs threaten to widen by euros 300 million ($475 million), pushing its profits down by up to 50%.

Speaking during the French Connect Low Cost Forum in Courchevel, Ryanair deputy chief executive Michael Cawley said: "This winter is going to be very difficult. We will put 20 aircraft on the ground for the winter because it's more profitable. We would just lose a lot of money [operating them], burning fuel."

The carrier grounded seven of the 40 aircraft operating from its London Stansted base during the last winter.

Source: Flight International