EasyJet is to cut capacity to and from Madrid by 20% and shut its base at the Spanish capital.

The airline blamed a combination of over capacity in the Spanish airline market leading to low revenue per passenger, combined with high airport charges which have more than doubled in the last two years and will be subject to further above inflation increases in the coming years.

“The Madrid base is delivering returns below all of easyJet’s other bases,” the airline said.

The changes will take place this winter and result in and overall reduction in capacity to and from Spain of 7% in the next financial year. The airline still expects to carry more than 12 million passengers on Spanish routes next year.

The airline said it intends to continue to serve Spain but to do so differently by moving its aircraft to other bases around its European network which will deliver higher returns.

“The airline is now reviewing a range of options for its eight Madrid based aircraft and 310 crew,” a statement said.

“All of easyJet’s pilots and cabin crew in Madrid will be offered a job in the airline’s other bases and easyJet hopes to retain as many of its people as possible.

“EasyJet will discuss the proposal with the easyJet European Works Council and the local employee representatives as appropriate.”

The airline added: “Madrid-based customers will also continue to benefit from easyJet’s services after the proposed transfer as easyJet will operate to Madrid from many of Europe’s most popular cities.

“Assuming the current fuel price environment continues for the remainder of the year, the benefit from lower fuel prices should fully offset any restructuring costs.”