LISBON: Ryanair, which is the Irish ‘low-cost’ airline, has put the blame for strangling investments in Portugal because of its ‘ever increasing airport taxes’.
The announcement came as secretary of state for infrastructures, transport and communications Sérgio Monteiro confirmed airport taxes have increased 17% at Lisbon airport since airport operator ANA was privatized in 2013.
During a press conference in Lisbon yesterday (January 28), Ryanair spokesperson David O’Brien said the hike came at a time when passenger numbers were rising.
“They say it is a regulated market, but the truth is that if there are more passengers, prices should drop,” he said.
“I am not trying to say we will pull out of the Portugal operation,” he added. “But we may well relax investment. We’ve compared prices and we have a lot of alternatives,” he warned.
In fact, O’Brien went so far as to suggest the increases were a ruse to stop the number of passengers in Lisbon topping 22 million – as this would mean the need to build “a new airport”.
“If prices increase, they will naturally drive traffic away,” he said.
The broadside came as Ryanair is expected to announce the opening of seven new routes to Bremen, Eindhoven, Hamburg, Milan, Ponta Delgada, Rome and Warsaw this summer, bringing the number of links out of Lisbon to 17.
Since ANA was bought for over €3 billion by French company Vinci in early 2013, Portugal’s airport charges have increased five times – most recently on January 1, though this has been so criticized by airlines and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) that it is being deferred until at least March.
ANA points out that airport taxes charged in Lisbon are still 22% below the average, and 78% below those charged in Madrid.