Ryanair promised to continue to invest heavily in Portugal, with 13% growth in passenger numbers foreseen for the summer, with the aim of reaching 13 million passengers in fiscal year 2024.
Ryanair on Wednesday announced 11 new routes to and from Porto airport and eight at Faro, in the Algarve, for the summer, bringing the total for Portugal as a whole to 164 routes, and also announced plans to add two more new aircraft at each of those airports.
“We are launching our biggest ever summer schedule in Portugal, which includes four new aircraft, two in Porto and two in Faro,” the Ireland-based airline’s CEO, Michael O’Leary, announced at a news conference in Lisbon.
The programme foresees 11 new routes in Porto and eight new ones in Faro, at a cost of €400 million but, according to the CEO, there will be no growth in Lisbon, “because TAP continues to block slots that it is not using and has no intention of using.
Elena Cabrera, the airline’s manager for Portugal and Spain, reiterated this point: “We do not have new routes in Lisbon – it is not possible. We do not have space to continue growing and therefore we continue to ask for a second airport, Montijo, which for us is the best option.”
Ryanair promised, however, to continue to invest heavily in Portugal, with 13% growth in passenger numbers foreseen for the summer, against the same period in 2022, with the aim of reaching 13 million passengers in fiscal year 2024.
O’Leary also said that Portugal’s government should fight the extension of environmental taxes to the peripheral areas of the European Union, such as Madeira and the Azores, arguing that they are “unfair” to such regions, which he argues will end up losing visitors to destinations outside the EU, such as Morocco and Turkey.
In relation to the planned reprivatisation of TAP, the Ryanair CEO expressed his conviction that the flag carrier would be sold this year, “probably” to the IAG group – owner of British Airways and Iberia – and not to Air France or Lufthansa.
Asked about the impact of inflation on Ryanair’s business, O’Leary said that ticket prices should be between 5% and 10% higher this summer than last, “provided there are no more adverse events” following the Covid-19 pandemic and the outbreak of war in Europe.
Asked about the location of a planned new training centre on the Iberian Peninsula, the decision on which was initially to have been made known in January, the Ryanair CEO said this would be announced in mid-February.
“Right now it looks like it will be in Porto, but Madrid has made a final offer” that is being analysed, he explained.