O'Leary makes new call to cut airport charges

Adelina Campos

RYANAIR chief executive Michael O'Leary has renewed his call for the travel tax to be scrapped.

He also wants reduce airport charges to be reduced.

Mr O'Leary's criticism of the Government's tourism policy came as Ryanair announced that it had become the first European airline to carry more than eight million passengers in a single month.

Transport Minister Leo Varadkar said earlier this week that the €3 travel tax would be maintained until a further review next year as no carrier had committed to open new routes or reinstate cancelled routes from Irish airports.

The Department of Transport had hired external consultants to examine plans put forward by airlines to increase the number of passengers coming into Ireland.

But Mr Varadkar claimed that no airline had come up with a suitable plan.


Nonetheless, Mr O'Leary claimed that Ryanair would deliver five million extra passengers into Ireland's three main airports over the next five years if landing and other airport charges were abolished for these passengers.

At a press conference in Dublin yesterday, Mr O'Leary said the new Government had failed to deliver on its promise to change the previous government tourism policy.

He said that the Department of Transport was still "unfit for purpose", but that he would be willing to work with Mr Varadkar over the next year.

"Ireland is losing out on the enormous growth that Ryanair continues to deliver to other airports in Europe," Mr O'Leary said.

"Why are Irish airports and Irish tourism losing out on this growth?"

Mr O'Leary said Ryanair would not grow its services from Dublin, Cork or Shannon until the travel tax was scrapped and the increase in passenger charges was reversed.

He claimed that CSO figures showing a rise in foreign visitor numbers to Ireland were "bogus" and even predicted traffic at Ireland's three main airports would contract this year by a million to 21.6 million.

The CSO said in May that the number of overseas visitors to the Republic in the first quarter of the year had increased by almost 9pc, but Mr O'Leary said that airline seat capacity to Ireland fell 6pc from Britain in the first quarter, by 15pc from mainland Europe and by 1pc from North America.

See Eoghan Corry, P 14-15