Ryanair: We want to grow in Portugal
The CEO of Ryanair, Eddie Wilson says that the airline wants to grow its position in Portugal but has warned that if costs increase they will have to move aircraft to destinations that offer the best returns.
Eddie Wilson was referring to plans to increase national airport taxes by 18% in Portugal, plans which Ryanair says is a negative factor that could put the low-cost airline off making more investments in Portugal.
The company that manages Portugal’s airports, ANA – Aeroportos de Portugal, owned by the French group Vinci, has submitted a plan to hike airport taxes paid by airlines to the aviation regulator ANAC, which has yet to react to the proposal.
But ANA has justified the proposed hikes, which it says in most cases are by just €1 or less, on the grounds of inflation and rising maintenance costs in general.
In an interview with Jornal Económico, Eddie Wilson said: “This summer went well, but I think the big issue in Portugal is the increase in airport taxes by VIncI/ANA.
“We are talking about increases of 18% in Lisbon. The airport is the same size it was last year so why do they need an increase of 18%?1”, he asked.
The answer from ANA is that previous proposed increases in past years, most of which had been revised downwards by the regulator, had never reflected the true costs of running Portugal’s airports
Wilson added: “The Portuguese government needs to do something about access costs. Portugal is a relatively small country, it needs to be competitive and sold its airports to a French group that is now maximising its monopolistic profits. This is a vital piece of infrastructure for the benefit of the Portuguese economy that needs to be competitive: remove the costs so that airline companies can come”, said Wilson.
Wilson was talking on the sidelines of the World Aviation Festival conference that took place in Lisbon last week.
Recalling the situation last year when ANAC did not allow taxes to be bumped up by 11% in favour of more modest airport taxes, Eddie Wilson said: “When the government (the regulator) stepped in, we rewarded this by putting more flights on in Porto and Faro.
“Airport taxes rose in the Azores, and we took our base away. Madeira is under a lot of pressure right now and we’re the only ones to have a base on Madeira and this is now at risk because of a stupid decision to put up taxes.”