Ryanair cuts some of its Norway flights

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Low-fare airline Ryanair will temporarily cut back on its flights into Rygge airport at Moss, south of Oslo, while it ramps up its Italian routes. The Irish-owned airline has been embroiled in a series of controversies in Norway, but has promised a new, fresh, friendlier and more customer-focused Ryanair, while toning down the role of the airline’s outspoken boss Michael O’Leary.

Ryanair's Michael O'Leary isn't backing away from his claims that any challenges to Ryanair's authority must be handled in an Irish court. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary, shown here at an earlier press conference in Norway, has ruffled a few feathers since launched service from Rygge. Now he will be stepping back from the spotlight as the airline launches a friendlier image. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund

Ryanair will drop back from 44 to 39 routes into Rygge, but the company has not yet announced which will go.

“We lack some capacity and won’t get any new planes before December 2014,” said Elina Hakkarainen, Ryanair’s Nordic and Baltics marketing head, who appeared alone at the press conference in Oslo. “After that we’ll come back with a new plan to grow further at Rygge.” She announced one new route, to Bologna, which will take off twice a week, beginning in April.

The announcement follows a number of problems for Ryanair in Norway, including a court case over an employee’s dismissal and accusations of illegal staff surveillance.

Colourful and high-profile Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary, who sported a horned Viking helmet when he first introduced service from Rygge, was noticeably absent from Tuesday’s press meeting. He has heavily criticized Norwegian politicians, courts and airline authorities as recently as September, while maintaining that Ryainair is “wonderful,” and “our passengers love us.”

“Sometimes he has spoken a little differently than other directors,” Hakkarainen told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). Now, she indicated, he won’t be holding such a high-profile public role at the airline: “He will continue to be with Ryanair, but will work less with PR jobs,” she said.

Management at Rygge airport is not concerned the five routes will be cut, or that Ryanair could remove some of the planes it has based at Rygge.

“We’ve had tremendous growth these past years, so it suits us well to begin to stabilize now,” says Managing Director Pål Tandberg. “We’re betting there will be new growth in 2015.”

newsinenglish.no/Emily Woodgate