Nicola Sturgeon will not hold a second independence referendum, claims Ryanair boss
Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary said the country was "not strong enough" to pursue separation from the United Kingdom due to the sharp fall in the price of oil.
He was speaking in Edinburgh as the airline announced 17 new routes from Scotland in light of the SNP's promise to slash air passenger duty (APD).
But Mr O'Leary warned that the new services would be scrapped if ministers fail to deliver the 50 per cent reduction by the end of the current parliament.
He said: "I think if Nicola Sturgeon holds a second one she knows she'll lose it. Scotland is not strong enough to stand on its own as an independent economy, not with oil at $50 a barrel."
He said the new flights from Glasgow and Edinburgh airports were a "demonstration" of the airline's faith in the SNP's plans to reduce APD before eventually abolishing it.
Mr O'Leary explained: "We've decided to take Holyrood at its word and assume there will be an APD cut in 2018. We're going to open 15 routes from Edinburgh and two new routes in Glasgow in the winter of 2017. We're doing this as a demonstration to the Scottish Government of the benefits that will be brought by Scotland if they go ahead with the promise of a cut in APD."
I think if Nicola Sturgeon holds a second one she knows she'll lose it
Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary
The new routes from Edinburgh fly to Baden, Budapest, Carcassonne, Eindhoven, Hamburg, Katowice, Nantes, Prague, Szczecin, Toulouse, Venice, Valencia and Wroclaw while the two additional Glasgow routes are to Krakow and Madrid.
Mr O'Leary said the new flights would boost growth by 20 per cent to more than five million passengers but warned: "These 15 routes will not continue into winter 2018 if the Scottish Government doesn't uphold its promises.
"We will stop investing in Scotland and we will start growing and investing in other low-tax jurisdictions elsewhere in Europe."
Michael O'Leary claims the first minister will not hold the vote because she knows she will lose
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The millionaire also intervened in the row over Brexit and suggested all flights between the UK and Europe could be suspended by March 2019 if a hard Brexit goes ahead.
He said that the current open skies arrangement hinges on recognising the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, which Prime Minister Theresa May said Britain would no longer be subject to.
He was speaking in Edinburgh as the airline announced 17 new routes
Mr O'Leary said: "In the airline industry we could be heading for a very difficult divorce with Europe.
"There is a possibility, unlikely but nevertheless a possibility, that there may be no flights between the UK and Europe in March 2019 if the UK walks off this cliff."