Expatica news

O’Leary tells Charleroi where to go

10 September 2004

BRUSSELS – Ryanair boss, Michael O’Leary, has given a typically blunt response to Charleroi airport’s request for a pay-back of state subsidies.

A letter requesting EUR 4 million of subsidies deemed illegal by the EU is winging its way to the headquarters of the budget Irish airline.

“We haven’t received any letter, but if we do I think it would get a pretty short reply. I think it would consist of two words – Foxtrot Oscar,” O’Leary was quoted as saying in the Daily Telegraph.

“Ryanair has spent much more than we have ever received from the Walloon region. We spent over 100m building the bloody base. We created their airport from nothing. So our reply will say we’re paying nothing, love Mick.”

In February the European Commission ruled that EUR 4 million of the EUR 15 million incentives Ryanair received from Charleroi amounted to illegal state aid.

Ryanair launched an appeal against the decision in May.

O’Leary said he did not hold Laurent Jossart, head of the Walloon airport, personally responsible.

“He’s a good guy. We don’t have any problem getting any letter from Charleroi airport which is being bullied by the EU, but he already knows what the reply will be.”

O’Leary also defended the airline’s decision to give away 25 percent of its seats for free, denying that the budget carrier was desperate or had expanded too fast.

He repeated a warning that there would be a “bloodbath” among airlines this winter but said that Ryanair’s passenger numbers would still rise from 23 million to 28 million this year.

“We’re still going to be the most profitable airline in Europe,” he said.

[Copyright Expatica 2004]

Subject: Belgian news