Ryanair ups pressure on Charleroi
3 March 2004
BRUSSELS – Budget airline Ryanair has further increased the pressure on Wallonia’s Charleroi airport to absorb any extra costs the carrier may face following a critical European Commission decision about the carrier’s operations in Belgium, Le Soir newspaper reported on Wednesday.
Citing un-named Walloon officials, the newspaper said Ryanair on Tuesday made it clear that it will pay no more than EUR 5 per passenger to land at Charleroi.
Le Soir says the airline delivered the ultimatum to the operators of the state-run airport during talks in Charleroi on Tuesday. If the airport is not prepared to keep charging the current fee, Ryanair has threatened to pull out of Charleroi altogether, the newspaper added.
The Walloon officials cited in Le Soir said they did not think they could carry on with the EUR 5 landing fee, because the European Commission last month ruled it was artificially low.
They say Charleroi will have to charge Ryanair at least EUR 9 a passenger if it is to respect the Commission ruling.
As Expatica was updated, Ryanair had made no public comment about the alleged talks with Charleroi.
But the cut-price airline has already fired what many analysts see as a warning shot across the Belgian airport’s bows with its announcement late last month that it will in April end flights between Charleroi and London.
At the time, Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary warned that if Charleroi did not share Ryanair’s vision of “the lowest possible airfares for ordinary people” then there would be further flight reductions and route closures.
Ryanair has said it will challenge the Commission’s ruling at the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg.
The Walloon authorities initially said they would support the court case, but several leading Walloon politicians have since urged caution, arguing such a move could backfire and result in an even tougher judgement.
On 3 February EU Transport Commissioner Loyola de Palacio argued that Charleroi is unfairly subsidising Ryanair by offering it landing fees at below market rates and she ordered the airport to stop the practice.
She also told Ryanair to give back part of a multi-million euro handout it received from the Walloon authorities to encourage it to develop its activities at Charleroi.
Subject: Belgian news