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Ryanair starts routes to Croatia, France, Morocco

Ryanair Holdings Plc, Europe's biggest discount airline, plans to start routes in October to France, Morocco and its first flights to Croatia as the airline expands its network. The carrier will start Oct. 31 two routes from London Stansted airport to Deauville, France, and Pula, Croatia, and two from London Luton airport to Fez and Marrakesh in Morocco, Chief Executive Officer Michael O'Leary said in London yesterday. „Ryanair now carries more passengers than British Airways on its entire worldwide network,” O'Leary said. „Londoners have made Ryanair their first choice.” The carrier is adding to Boeing Co. 737-800 aircraft to its fleet, replacing smaller Boeing 737-200s. Ryanair has 16 bases and 351 routes. In the quarter ended June 30, Ryanair flew 25% more passengers than a year earlier. O'Leary said that within two months he will announce the start date of the use of mobile phones on the company's planes, with the airline taking a portion of „roaming” charges. Gambling on the company's Web site will follow, then gambling on planes, he said. The chief executive declined to comment on the recent level of fares, passenger numbers or earnings as Ryanair releases first quarter results Aug 1. „I have said that first quarter results would be `stonking,' and that is the most you'll get out of me at this stage,” O'Leary said. „Stonking” is an Irish and British slang expression for „excellent.”

He added that Ryanair was able to absorb the higher cost of fuel and „the best thing that could happen this winter” would be oil priced at $100 per barrel, as it would hurt competitors. Ryanair also said it will start two new routes from Shannon, Ireland, to Bournemouth in southwest England, and Edinburgh, starting Oct. 31. The carrier will add a sixth daily flight on the Dublin-to-London Gatwick route and a fourth daily flight from Cork, Ireland, to Dublin. Meanwhile, British Airways Plc is offering flights to Amsterdam and Toulouse, France, from London Gatwick airport, with fares starting at 29 pounds ($53) one-way, including taxes, for Executive Club members, Europe's third-largest airline said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. (Bloomberg)