Low-cost carrier Ryanair seeks growth in Slovakia

Irish low-cost airline Ryanair on Wednesday said it wanted to expand its base in Slovakian capital Bratislava and more than double passenger numbers here.

"We plan to set up a base in Bratislava next year or in 2015 that will enable us to raise passenger numbers from more than 875,000 last year to up to 2.5 million," Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary told journalists.

The final deal will depend on the level of incentives Bratislava offers the airline, he added.

Ryanair recently ordered 175 Boeing 737-800 planes in a major fleet expansion that will bring its total number of aircraft to 400.

"We'd like to see some of these airplanes based in Bratislava," O'Leary said.

Bratislava airport, which is only 60 kilometres (38 miles) from the airport in Vienna, recorded in 2012 its fourth consecutive drop in passenger numbers, to 1,416,010 people.

But even with a Ryanair expansion, analysts in Bratislava do not consider the low cost carrier to be strong competition for more high-end airlines based in Vienna.

"Austrian passengers are conservative and don't want to travel 60 kilometres to the east just to save a few euros," business magazine Profit analyst Jan Blazej told AFP.