Ryanair has raised ticket prices for refugees fleeing the war, the Ukrainian ambassador to Ireland Larysa Gerasko said today.
“Ryanair raised the prices and it's unfortunate, and I'm waiting for a meeting with the Minister for Transport of Ireland (Eamon Ryan),” said Larysa Gerasko.
She said she had written a protest letter to Ryanair a week ago but had yet to receive a reply.
Ambassador Gerasko welcomed suggestions of charters being officially arranged from Poland, which stemmed from Sinn Féin Deputy John Brady at the European Union Affairs committee at Leinster House today.
“We would be very grateful for that, because it is very difficult to buy tickets from Warsaw or from Krakow to Dublin,” she said.
“And moreover, may I address this issue to Ryanair because raised the prices and it's unfortunate.”
Independent Senator Sharon Keogan, who organised a Dáil collection for Ukraine last week, interrupted: “That’s unforgivable. It's actually unforgivable.”
Ms Gerasko said she would “raise this issue for sure” when she meets Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan on his return from St Patrick’s Day duties abroad.
She added: “Unfortunately our request, or our letter (to Ryanair) never received any response, I'd say, from Ryanair, because we sent this letter, it seems to me, one week ago.”
Fianna Fáil Senator Gerry Horkan said Ryanair should now make flights available free, instead of raising prices in response to the refugee crisis.
“My understanding is that Ryanair was the single largest operator in Ukraine prior to the conflict,” he said. “It flew more flights per day in Ukraine than Ukrainian International and with a much bigger fleet.”
Ryanair is a successful commercial airline, he added. “But I think on this one Ryanair need to know when to step up and when to deliver.”
Senator Horkan said a message should go out to Michael O'Leary of Ryanair, with its 400-plus aircraft, “that they could provide services out of Poland, out of Romania, out of Moldova, to various European countries and other safe havens.”
They should do so free of charge to the passengers, he added.
“I don't think it would be up beyond their capabilities to do that.
“And I think a lot of us who do fly Ryanair, and who do use Ryanair, would appreciate right now if Ryanair could say, ‘Look, on this occasion, in this traumatic war situation’ that they would fly services at “zero cost.”
They should say this to the government of Ukraine, but equally to the governments of Poland, Romania, Moldova and various other countries close by, he said, “that they would fly services at minimal cost, preferably zero cost, to bring people out of these countries.”
He said it was impossible for Irish people to even fathom that almost three million people had to flee “with nothing except the clothes on their back and maybe a small suitcase and a couple of toys for their children.
“It's just beyond comprehension that this can happen on the EU borders in the 21st century.
“And I think it would be good if that message went back from this committee to Ryanair and other airlines for that matte, but particularly Ryanair, who did a lot of business in Ukraine — and who hopefully will do a lot of business in Ukraine in the future when Ukraine rebuilds itself as a free, democratic, independent state.”
Comment is being sought from Ryanair.