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YOUR article headlined ‘Ryanair chief acting like the boy who owns the ball’ (September 24) wrongly blamed the ailrine for the reduction of flights and traffic at Shannon and Kerry airports.
Ryanair is a publicly quoted company whose duty to its passengers, staff and shareholders is to lower costs and fares wherever possible. We are growing rapidly this year all over Europe where countries like Spain, Italy and Germany are scrapping tourist taxes and lowering airport fees, in some cases by 100%.
Contrast this with Ireland where in the past two years, during the worst recession in history, the Government has imposed a €10 tourist tax and Transport Minister Noel Dempsey has ordered – yes, ordered – the so-called independent aviation regulator to hike Dublin airport’s fees by 40% in 2010 to pay for a €1.2bn white elephant Terminal Two which the airport neither needs nor can afford.
The Dublin-Kerry route is a perfect example of this problem. Ryanair tendered for this public service obligation (PSO) route in March 2008 and started flying it in July 2008. Since that date, the Government has introduced a tourist tax of €4 on a return ticket, increased the Dublin airport fees by more than €10 per passenger and the government-owned Irish Aviationt Authority (IAA) has hiked navigation fees by another 50%. When Ryanair asked Minister Dempsey to increase the subvention to take account of these government cost increases, he refused, despite the fact that the PSO contract allows Ryanair to claim these unexpected cost increases back from the minister.
Ryanair has confirmed we will continue the three daily Kerry-Dublin flights if these increased government costs are reflected in the PSO compensation. If Minister Dempsey refuses then we will continue the route on a commercial basis, with a daily return flight, but without claiming any PSO subsidy. The future of regional airports like Kerry and Shannon depends on having low access costs and no tourist tax. This is how many other European airports have returned to growth this year.
However, we have a Government hellbent on destroying tourism and the regions by ‘welcoming’ the very visitors that our airports depend on, with a €10 tourist tax and inflation-busting increases in charges by Governmetn-owned monopolies like the Dublin Airport Authority and the IAA.
Criticism of the collapse in Irish tourism and traffic should be channelled towards Noel Dempsey’s failed strategy which has caused record traffic losses at Ireland’s airports over the past two years rather than towards Ryanair, which does what any commercial airline should do, namely follow the lowest costs so that we can provide our passengers with the lowest fares.
Ryanair Head Office
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