Ryanair is to reduce its capacity from Stansted after a dispute with airport operator BAA.

The budget airline said it was cutting capacity this winter by 40%. It will operate 40 aircraft during the summer and 24 aircraft this winter. It said the cuts would mean a 30% reduction in the number of weekly flights and 2.5 million fewer passengers carried between October and March 2010.

However, last winter Ryanair only operated 28 aircraft out of the airport, since it is normal for airlines to cut capacity in the winter months, which means the fall in capacity is just 14%, compared with last year.

Ryanair said the airport had rejected its calls for deep cuts in high passenger fees for this winter. It also attributed the decision to the increase of Air Passenger Duty for short-haul flights from £10 to £11.

Chief executive Michael O’Leary said: “Ryanair’s 40% capacity cut at Stansted shows just how much a £10 tourist tax, and the BAA monopoly’s high airport charges, are damaging London, UK tourism and the British economy generally.”

The aircraft removed from Stansted will relocate to other European airports.

Meanwhile, Scottish press has reported that the no-frills airline is to slash its services from Glasgow Prestwick this winter. The number of services is expected to be cut from 24 to 16, and capacity will be cut by one-third.