Outspoken Ryanair CEO Michael Leary has been at it again – relentlessly rubbing establishment noses just where they don’t want to be.
This time it is over Portugal’s high airport charges – which he claims will force tourism to neighbouring Spain – and calculated delays over the opening of a new airport terminal to service Lisbon in Montijo.
According to O’Leary, ANA airports authority is not only charging airlines too much to land on Portuguese territory, it is gaining with the sloth over expansion to Montijo.
The longer it takes to open the ‘new airport’, the more ANA can go on upping its charges, he told a press conference in Lisbon yesterday (Wednesday) – stressing that when Montijo is finally opened to low-cost airlines, it should not be handed to ANA.
“Competition between Montijo and Portela (now renamed Humberto Delgado) would be good for the consumer”, he said.
Portugal may be “champions in football” and now “champions at singing in Eurovision”, he quipped, “but they are going to lose traffic and tourism to Spain… and Portugal hates losing to Spain”.
Whether O’Leary’s predictions will come through remains to be seen. He certainly sees himself as a prophet – though this perhaps should be put into context.
“People either see me as Jesus, Superman or an odious little sh*t”, he told journalists in 2013.
“I think I’m Jesus. A prophet in his own time”.
Accompanied yesterday by Ryanair’s chief commercial officer David O’Brien, O’Leary was back in Portugal’s capital to “reinforce the message given at the end of February that Montijo could be opened much earlier than 2021”, the date given so far, says travel website Presstur.
“The government has the authority to say it wants Montijo opened in 2019”, Ryanair’s ‘messiah’ told his audience – stressing “not 2020, nor 2021. We need it opened earlier because otherwise Portugal and Lisbon will lose growth, which will go to the Spanish airports like Malaga or Valencia, which are lowering their prices”.
Everything needed to open the new terminal is already in place, O’Leary stressed, returning to the mantra that ANA airports authority is simply stalling for monetary gain.
At the same press conference, the Ryanair CEO added that negotiations are back on track with TAP over the possibility of a ‘commercial partnership’ in transatlantic flights.
Presstur did add in its report that an official source for TAP denied all knowledge of this.