Ryanair CEO criticises new travel restrictions
The COVID-19 pandemic has seen the travel industry decimated amid global lockdowns and increasingly strict travel rules. Though there have been fears this could lead to increased fare costs in the future, Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary has vowed the airline will continue to keep costs low for consumers.
Speaking on EUROCONTROL’s Aviation Hardtalk Live the Ryanair boss said he believes the airline could be the biggest budget airline in Europe once the industry has recovered.
He explained this would be achieved by ramping up their fleet, while other airlines were reducing theirs, by purchasing new aircraft and attempting to operate more airport slots.
“I think Lufthansa, Air France, BA – the bigger guys – they are actively trying to extend the slot waiver into the summer of 2021 because they know long-haul will take time to recover and a huge amount of their short-haul traffic feeds in to or feeds from their long haul business,” Mr O’Leary stated.
“So they actively want to constrain capacity next summer, keep the planes on the ground, keep the fares high on whatever they fly and rip off the consumer again despite the fact they have received over 30 billion in state aid.
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“In Ryanair, we see a different future.
“We see a strong recovery, we need more aircraft but we can only deliver that strong recovery if we lower prices.”
The Irish-carriers’ boss predicted both “short-haul and long-haul will have recovered” by the time summer 2022 arrives.By this time, he believes Ryanair will be offering some of the lowest ticket prices in Europe.
He continued: “I think there will be one large low-cost airline.
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“Wizz Air and easyJet are not and will not be able to compete with Ryanair’s cost-base and our fares.
“They accept that at the moment anyway, it is why they try to avoid competing with us, it is why they are all desperate to get slots at constricted airports where we don’t operate.
“So, ultimately, I think we will be the large EU low-fare airline and that is good for EU consumers.
“There will be a choice to the high fare, rip off, state-aided, subsidised, legacy highwaymen of Lufthansa, Air France, KLM and IAG.”
In a bid to boost capacity for customers, the airline has purchased an order of brand new Boeing Max aircraft – a move the Ryanair boss deems “critical”.
He said: “Unless we can add additional capacity into that market place which will take up the slack that has been left by Norwegian and easyJet’s cutbacks then fares will rise. We have repriced the aircraft so they will be a little cheaper than we had previously negotiated but they are still going to be great aircraft.
“Here is an aircraft that allows us to carry four percent more passengers per flight but burn 16 percent less fuel.
“So not alone is it cheaper, phenomenally more operationally efficient but its greener and cleaner as well. It’s a game-changer.”
However, he admitted that low fares would only be possible if some of the current fees required from airlines were reduced.
“A crucial issue next summer is can we lower prices? And that means lower ATC prices, lower airport charges, and governments to scrap some of these anti-consumerism taxes to get tourism and travel back in Europe again,” he said.
He is also adamant that the current landing slot waiver should not be extended.Currently, the EU and UK have waived a rule which dictated airlines must use take-off and landing slots at constrained airports 80 percent of the time. If not, they lose them.
Big-name carriers are lobbying for this waiver to be extended in the summer of 2021, but Ryanair’s boss disagrees.
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