ECONOMY

Ryanair: Regional airport deal should have included traffic growth pledge

ryanair-regional-airport-deal-should-have-included-traffic-growth-pledge

The agreement for the concession of 14 Greek regional airports to a consortium led by German company Fraport was not the best possible for the country, Ryanair chief executive officer Michael O’Leary commented on Tuesday.

The Irish businessman explained his view at a press conference in Athens, saying that if the government just wanted to pass the airports on to the highest bidder, it did the right thing, but if it wanted to increase passenger traffic at those airport, it should have obtained a pledge from the preferred bidder saying as much.

The fact that the contractor is not obliged to produce any growth in traffic, O’Leary said, creates the risk that regional airport charges will soar, which will most likely lead to a reduction to air arrivals.

While announcing the addition of new flights and another aircraft to its hub in Athens, O’Leary said the country’s success story is its tourism and that the Greek government will have to invest in it. He went on to reveal that he had submitted a Ryanair plan to the government in December that would have led to an increase in the Irish airline’s traffic to Athens by up to 50 percent if the airport charges of the Athens International Airport were reduced. Up until yesterday, though, he had received no response.

Ryanair will start six new routes linking Athens with Bucharest, Dublin, Malta, Bologna, Sofia and Myconos, and will increase the number of flights to Rhodes and Rome, aiming to carry 3.4 million passengers per year.