Ryanair could bail on Belgium
12 November 2003 , BRUSSELS – Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary has threatened to pull out of Belgium completely if the EU declares subsidies received by the airline from the Walloon region as illegal.
12 November 2003
BRUSSELS – Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary has threatened to pull out of Belgium completely if the EU declares subsidies received by the airline from the Walloon region as illegal.
The budget airline became caught up in the subsidy scandal when it was found that Ryanair had been accepting money in return for using Charleroi airport as its Belgian base.
“A negative ruling won’t impact our financial position, we will just move the aircraft to other bases,” O’Leary told the Press Association, adding that he was already in discussions with two other airports in Europe.
A European Union enquiry into the issue has been ongoing for several weeks investigating the legality of Ryanair receiving monies from the regional government in return for using the publicly owned airport.
If the subsidies are found to be unlawful, O’Leary has vowed to immediately launch an appeal at the European Court in Luxembourg in an attempt to have the decision overturned or enter into discussions to have Charleroi privatised.
O’Leary also threatened that a negative decision would serve to shut down the regional airport and reinstate Zaventem airport’s monopoly over Belgian air travel.
The Irish carrier, which has four aircraft based at Charleroi and services two million passengers a year, argues it would not be able to maintain its cut-down prices were it not for airport subsidies.
Competitors such as Virgin Express have reacted angrily to Ryanair’s business tactics and have called on the EU to restore what they describe as fair competition to the low-price aviation industry.
[Copyright Expatica News 2003]
Subject: Belgian news