Ryanair has announced expansion plans in Italy after the collapse of Italian low cost carrier Volare earlier this week.

The airline announced a new twice daily service from Paris Beauvais to Venice Trevios. It also flies from Milan (Bergamo) to Barcelona (Girona), Milan to Valencia, Rome (Ciampino) to Barcelona, Rome to Paris, Rome to Valencia and Venice to Barcelona.

'The collapse of Volare is the second significant collapse (V-Bird was the first) in the European low fares sector this winter,' commented Ryanair's Deputy Chief Executive Michael Cawley.

'Ryanair was the first to predict that there would be a bloodbath this winter which would result in the collapse of loss making low fare airlines,' he added.

'We have enjoyed enormous growth in the Italian market over the past three years and we expect that Ryanair's response to the collapse of Volare will enable us to continue to grow and expand in the Italian market,' he added.

Ryanair also said that it has invited all of the Italian airports affected by the Volare collapse to meetings in Milan next week to discuss the possibility of Ryanair offering domestic flights within Italy on those routes that were previously operated by Volare.

Meanwhile, Ryanair has also announced the closure of two 'underperforming' routes - Stansted-Erfurt and Barcelona-Milan.

* Ryanair's UK rival Easyjet also announced today that it is expanding its Italian operations with four new routes connecting the UK and Germany with Italian airports. The new routes are: London Gatwick to Olbia, London Luton to Cagliari, Berlin to Olbia and Berlin to Pisa. All the new routes will start next year.

Ryanair shares closed up three cent to €5.08 in Dublin.