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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Patrick Matthews

Wine merchants have reacted with dismay to Ryanair's decision to axe cheap flights to Dijon and Bordeaux, following its take-over of smaller rival Buzz in January. It's disastrous for the English wine trade,' Ben Collins of London-based Bibendum told Harpers. The merchants have been especially put out by the suspension of all Buzz services during April. Adnams of Southwold, in Suffolk, had, like many others in the trade, booked flights with Buzz to attend the Union des Grands Crus 2002 vintage tasting in Bordeaux. Now we're flying British Airways from Gatwick,' said fine wine manager Rob Chase. It's not only the extra expense, but also the inconvenience.' The wine trade has benefited from the recent boom in cheap flights to France and other European countries. It's greatly increased our opportunities to take staff on tastings,' said Chase, and we're now doing many more than in the past.' We've been using Dijon to go to Burgundy,' said Collins. It's purely money - they're very cheap.' Tony Bell of Lay & Wheeler said that Buzz was especially convenient, given the large number of firms - such as his own, Adnams and The Wine Society - that are in easy reach of Stansted Airport. Only last month Harpers reported on the initiative by Buzz to ship wines from Bergerac and the south of France through the airline's cargo division. Ryanair has now scrapped the cargo operation. You have to remember that Buzz was losing e1 million a week,' said John Rowley, a Ryanair spokesman. Rowley pointed out that the service to Bergerac will be restarting from the beginning of May, and said the Bordeaux flights would be subject to review.