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No new Charleroi links, says Ryanair boss

Published on 08/03/2005

8 March 2005

BRUSSELS – Cut price airline Rynair has ruled out starting any new flights at Wallonia’s Charleroi airport before 2006, despite its much-trumpeted plan to become Europe’s biggest passenger carrier.

Its controversial boss Michael O’Leary told Le Soir newspaper: “Our activities at Charleroi are frozen for the time being until the European Court of Justice overturns the Commission decision obliging us to reimburse state aid.”

Last year, Ryanair was told by the Commission to pay back millions it had received in subsidies for setting up at Charleroi.

Yesterday, Wallonia announced it would take Ryanair to court for the money.

O’Leary has responded in typically robust fashion by accusing the Commission of dithering to put its case before the Court, meaning the appeal could not be decided before 2006.

“When the Commission decision is overturned, we will open up new links at Charleroi,” he said.

“That shows the stupidity of the Commission decision: Charleroi is building a new terminal, but no one wants to fly at Charleroi. The airport is frozen for the moment.”

O’Leary’s comments may come as a disappointment to Charleroi.

Some hoped the Belgian airport would benefit from Ryanair’s intention to ferry 70 million passengers by 2012, double its current numbers.

O’Leary also said Ryanair would not pay more for baggage handling at Charleroi, despite European legislation which says that now the airport has reached 2 million, it can no longer subsidise the service.

“If costs rise at Charleroi, we will leave,” he stated.

[Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject: Belgian news