Aviation pivotal to recovery of Portuguese economy says Ryanair boss

The CEO of Ryanair, Michael O’Leary, said last week that the aviation industry would be “pivotal” to the recovery of the Portuguese economy at an online conference organised by Jornal Económico.

“Of course aviation is pivotal to the recovery of the Portuguese economy. Without aviation you would have no economic activity whatsoever, and a huge proportion of the Portuguese economy is driven by tourism and visitor revenues. I think we should look past, however, the current Covid crisis,” he said.

“It’s clear now that the vaccines are coming. We expect the vaccine with a rollout to the highest risk groups by the end of March next year and, therefore, there is a real prospect of the Portuguese airports and tourism industry recovering into the summer of 2021,” he added.

However, the “challenge facing Portugal”, according to the Ryanair boss, and “Portuguese aviation” was whether the recovery would be “quick and dramatic or slow and inefficient”.

“To my mind, there are a couple of things we want to see if Portugal is going have a quick and dramatic recovery by September 2021.

“First, the inanely stupid environmental tax of €2 per departing passenger,” said O’Leary.

“Portugal cannot be the only country in Europe proposing to raise taxes at a time when its tourism industry needs to recover. No other European economy is talking about raising environmental taxes, particularly on visitors over the next 12 months,” he said, adding that the tax should be “dumped”.

Second, O’Leary said there needed to be a recovery package at the Portuguese airports. “We are in discussions with a lot of airports around Europe, and we’re asking them to discount their airport fees for both the summer and winter of 2021 and that would, in the case of Portugal, involve ANA and the Portuguese government.

“Instead of blowing your brains out and wasting €3 billion on subsidising TAP, which will lose all the money anyway, put some of that money into ANA and the Portuguese airports and lower the airport charges as a recovery incentive for the summer and winter of 2021, and then all airlines and all customers in and going between Portugal can benefit,” he said.

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