Budget airline Ryanair has announced it is axing routes from Scotland's busiest airport in a dispute over costs with operator BAA.
The airline claimed the cuts at Edinburgh Airport could lead to 300 job losses and passenger traffic dropping by 15%, from 1.8 million to 1.5 million. But BAA said they were not expecting any job losses and "did not understand" where Ryanair got that figure from.
Ryanair announced it would reduce its operating aircraft at the hub from seven to six. It means the end of flights to and from Berlin in Germany. Other flights expected to begin later this year to Malmo in Sweden, Murcia and Ibiza in Spain and Estonia have been cancelled.
The airline said the number of flights Ryanair operates from the airport each week will drop by a fifth (21%), from 140 to 110. The company blamed a "breakdown of negotiations" about costs with BAA.
Ryanair warned that further cuts could be on the horizon if BAA Edinburgh does not extend its five-year competitive cost agreement, due to expire in October.
Michael O'Leary, Ryanair chief executive, said: "Ryanair regrets BAA Edinburgh Airport's rejection of our proposals for a competitive cost base which would allow Ryanair to further grow our traffic and routes for summer 2012. Sadly, BAA Edinburgh seems to prefer higher costs, even if it means fewer passengers and jobs at Edinburgh.
"While Ryanair remains committed to Edinburgh Airport, and with 1.5 million passengers and 35 routes, we continue to be one of the largest airlines operating to-from Edinburgh, BAA Edinburgh cannot continue to ignore the competitive marketplace where airports all over the UK and Europe have been reducing costs and lowering charges in return for traffic growth.
"We hope even at this late stage that BAA Edinburgh will realise that the way to grow traffic and jobs is by working with Ryanair to lower passengers fares, not raise them."
However, Jim O'Sullivan, managing director of Edinburgh Airport, said: "Of course we are disappointed that Ryanair has reduced its services from Edinburgh.
"We have tried extremely hard to negotiate with Ryanair but sadly on many issues have not been able to find common ground. For example, we cannot accept their wish to not pay the agreed air traffic control costs that all other airlines pay. As ever, our focus remains on providing managed, sustained and high-value growth, matching the aspirations of our city."