Ryanair's accelerated growth in Italy shows the success of its hard-ball game over tax hikes

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Not for the first time, Ryanair has won in a game of hard ball. It has a long history of forcing others to do business on its own terms – otherwise it will go elsewhere. After Italy increased municipal taxes on air traffic in Jan-2016, Ryanair decided to close its bases at Alghero in Sardinia and Pescara on Italy's Adriatic coast, and to withdraw from Crotone in the south of the country from Oct-2016. It had also planned to close 16 routes this coming winter.

Ryanair now says that it will accelerate its growth plans in Italy, allocating a further 10 new aircraft to the country. This was prompted by the Italian government's decision to reverse the tax increase from 1-Sep-2016. It may also have been facilitated by Ryanair's plans to reduce its UK growth after the Brexit vote.

Ryanair announced on 17-Aug-2016 that it will launch 44 new routes in Italy next year. It plans 21 new routes at airports in Rome and Milan and 23 at regional airports in Italy. Ryanair expects that it will increase its passenger numbers in Italy by 10% to 35 million in 2017 as a result of this expansion. Already the biggest airline by seats in Italy, Ryanair looks set to extend its lead.

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