Displeased by new fees introduced by Brussels Airport and a Belgian federal boarding tax, Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary has threatened to leave Brussels Airport in Zaventem, as well as reducing flights from Charleroi airport.
“Zaventem is certainly one of the airports where our presence is being seriously challenged. I cannot assure you that we will be present there this winter”, he declared on September 1st at the headquarters in Dublin.
O’Leary has expressed his discontent with the latest federal boarding tax intended to discourage short-distance flights. “Who invented this shit?” he said. The company’s CEO threatened to reduce the number of flights from Charleroi.
If we can have a better deal at another airport, we will move there.Michael O’Leary, Ryanair CEO
Ryanair broke its record for the number of passengers carried in a single month. The airline took on board 16.9 million in August, which is a fourth consecutive monthly record and a record in Europe, the Irish low-cost airline said on Friday. “We should reach a billion euros in profits for this year,” rejoiced Michael O’Leary, who plans to increase capacity for the winter period. Last week, it had also revised upwards its traffic forecast for the whole of 2022, to 166.5 million passengers.
These excellent results did not, however, prevent him from fearing the impact of a possible economic recession in Europe on air transport during the winter season. High inflation could also cause problems, as people would fly less frequently to save money, he worried, acknowledging that in such a case customers would opt more for low cost airlines. The recovery is therefore still fragile and sensitive to external shocks such as an escalation of the war in Ukraine, he summed up.
“Our planes will go where there is growth and where our low cost model is facilitated. If we have a better deal with another airport, we will move”, O’Leary said. He went on to say that he should announce the closure of several European bases within two weeks. For the winter aeronautical season, the low-cost company has two planes based in Zaventem and about fifteen stationed in Charleroi.
The company has been very critical about the legal action by 48 Belgian pilots seeking the restoration of their salaries, which were reduced by 20% since the coronavirus health crisis broke out. According to Ryanair, the Belgian pilots had accepted a plan which provided for their salaries to be restored with indexation included and now they are asking to have their salaries restored with inflation on top. “They signed this agreement. We look forward to going to court”, the company stated.
Executives assured that barely a quarter of the Belgian pilots have decided to sue the company and that they do not see how a court could rule in favor of the pilots given that they have a signed agreement.